It was billed as an invitation to celebrate the coming into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement For Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as Canadian Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr made the final stop of a cross-Canada tour with trade commissioners from Global Affairs Canada at Saskatoon.
The event was meant to convey a positive message about trade, but when pressed about trade relations with China, Carr admits there are difficulties. “We’re going through a difficult period in a relationship that dates back many decades It’s a difficult time because we are deeply concerned about the detention of Canadian citizens in China without due process, and we will work through it.”
The major problem right now is that Richardson International, one of the largest grain companies in Canada, has been blocked from shipping canola to China. The canola industry is a multi- billion dollar industry in Canada and anything that threatens that industry is a major issue, especially for farmers. (Story continues after audio)
Listen to interview with International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr, below.
There is a great deal of speculation that Richardson is being targeted for geo-political reasons more so than quality control, but Carr states otherwise. “We see this as a science-based issue that we hope can be solved at the officials level. The Chinese say that shipments of canola from Canada are not pure. We say show us so we can have a science based conversation.”
While all of this is going on the mystery pest remains a mystery. There is no indication from Richardson, the government, or Chinese officials, what they object to in the shipments, at least publicly. Carr maintains the samples from the outboard shipment meet export standards.
He says Canadian officials continue to ask for evidence of the perceived problem. “We are pressing Chinese officials to show us samples of the canola that would indicate there’s a problem, so far that has not materialized.”
Carr remains optimistic that this dispute can be resolved. “We believe that with some good will and some due diligence and patience we’ll get through it.”