The week after coming off her first trip to Saskatchewan, federal Agriculture and Agri-food Minister Marie Claude Bibeau says she has sent a letter to China requesting to send a delegation. The news comes at a Monday afternoon update provided by the minister, who says the issue between Canadian canola exports and China remains a top priority.
“(It would be) led by the president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, along with her team of plant health experts, and the support of technical experts from the prairie provinces,” she says.
Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr was also at the update and reaffirmed Canadian canola farmers, there are more markets than just China; however, China is a major importer of the product as a whole. According to the Canola Council of Canada, canola seed exports to China were worth $2.7 billion last year and until recent disruptions, overall demand was very strong.
“We need new markets, we are doing this with new trade agreements with Europe and with the Asian and Pacific Nations, through the new NAFTA,” Carr says. “The markets opened by the Asian Pacific trade deal alone, are expected to result in $780 million new canola exports per year.”
Carr adds he continues to have discussions with his counterparts in Pakistan, Mexico, Vietnam, and other economies that import Canadian canola to potentially increase their import volume.
The pair still stand firm that the solution to the resolution of China blocking Canadian canola shipments will be science based. To note, Carr was also quick to point out, “If there’s a problem with our shipments, show us the science!”
Working group announced
Although full details have yet to be released, Minister Bibeau did say they have started a working group that involves members of the Canola Council of Canada, the Canadian Canola Growers Association, Richardson International, Viterra, and representatives from the federal government and the Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan governments.
“We’re pleased that the government has recognized the seriousness of the issue and taken action,” says Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council. “As a group, we’ll be meeting right away to continue resolving the issue and to help the sector navigate the uncertainty it is causing.”
Everson added the council remains confident in what Canadian farmers have produced and want to resolve the difference of opinion between Canada and China as quickly as possible.