Blocked canola trade could still be a technical issue: Ruest

A representative from Richardson International says that this week’s revoked export license by China came after several weeks of complaints made by Chinese representatives regarding Canadian shipments of canola. While the complaints may have been made against more than just one company, its Richardson International now without the OK to ship to the economic super power — are the complaints valid? If they are not, what happens now?

Jean-Marc Ruest, senior vice president  of corporate affairs for Richardson International, says that they have been provided a list of pests identified by the Chinese officials and that list has been relayed to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Ruest says that Richardson and other export companies had met all phytosanitary requirements at the time of shipping, and subsequent to this finding Ruest says that has been confirmed.

So, on one hand China is claiming to have found pests in these shipments that should not have been there — if true, Ruest says that is strictly a technical issue and that now what should happen is communication between Canada’s regulatory body and the Chinese regulatory body.

However, Ruest acknowledges that there are several theories and opinions circulating that this is not necessarily a technical issue. “From our perspective, in all respects we were complaint, so the first order of business is to address first if it is a quality issue,” he says.

While the suspension of an export license isn’t common, it is standard that countries have a list of pests  — weeds seeds for example  — that are prohibited by each country.

At a trying time such as this, Ruest says they are working closely with the Canadian government, as they are regulator and the entity who will work through this issue. At this point, while it is important hat the industry pull together, ultimately it falls to the government and the appropriate departments to resolve the issue, not an industry organization.

Ruest says that Richardson is in the midst of some short term planning to deal with the immediacy of the situation, in regards to elevator shipments, and are working on a longer-term plan, depending on the speed at which this issue gets resolved.

Hear the entire interview with Jean-Marc Ruest here: 

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