Canadian soybeans held up at Chinese port

The executive director at Soy Canada says exporters are reporting that China is holding shipments of soybeans on arrival while the country conducts tests for “some normal plant pathogens.”

“We haven’t heard of this happening before, so it seems to be new,” Ron Davidson says.

The delay has not yet been confirmed to RealAgriculture by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Davidson says it’s been a record year for soybean exports to China. From just last year’s September crop to about the end of 2018, China imported 3.2 MMT of Canadian soybeans.

“Of course, with the turn of the new year, they (China) also have the choice to purchase from Brazil, but normally even when they do purchase from Brazil, we continue to export some. It’s just the rate of exports from Canada has dramatically declined, and we don’t have any official explanation for that … we just know the numbers have gone down,” he says.

Soybeans regularly get tested for maximum residue limits at port, and Davidson says that’s because there could be a possibility that some pesticides that were used during the growing season could have remained on the seed. He added there’s also some concern for certain plant pathogens; however, he says that there could “be quite a few on China’s list” but Soy Canada hasn’t seen such a list, nor have they had any type of formal communication with Chinese authorities.

“We’re just hearing this through our exporters, who in turn are receiving information individually from importers,” he says.

Agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says at this moment, they have become aware of strengthened inspection measures occurring for Canadian products at ports in China.

“While we have not received any information or formal notification from Customs China, we are seeking further details from China on this issue and we are working with Soy Canada,” the minister says.

As of Friday afternoon, Customs China website did not indicate there was a permit blockage of any Canadian commodity, other than canola.

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