"Increasingly troubled:" Bibeau meets with China's agriculture minister at G20 ag ministers' meeting

Canada’s Agriculture and Agri-food minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau says she met with China’s Agriculture Minister Han Changfu while at the G20 agricultural ministers’ meeting held at Niigata, Japan, last week.

When speaking to Minister Han, she expressed Canada is “increasingly troubled” by the lack of evidence provided to Canada regarding the pests of concern in relation to China blocking Canadian canola imports.

During their “introductory conversation” Bibeau says she urged China to resolve the issue quickly.

“I expressed strongly that our government stands firmly behind (Canada’s) robust inspection systems and our good reputation as being reliable suppliers of quality product world wide,” Bibeau says adding that she also brought up the fact that Canada’s visas to meet with Chinese counterparts over the matter have yet to be cleared.

“Only once provided with evidence, will we be able to rectify the situation,” she says.

During a technical briefing with media, Bibeau was asked if or when retaliation would happen if China continues to stall on the matter. She replied that a science-based conversation needs to happen.

“We’re still in a mode of trying to find a solution and not to escalate the issue, but we are obviously considering a variety of options for the future,” she says

Compensation for farmers affected by the canola ban isn’t fully off the table, Bibeau says, saying that last month AAFC increased the loan limit of the advanced payment program, however, she wouldn’t go into much detail as to what will happen if this ban continues for weeks, if not months to come.

“We’re looking at different options depending on how the situation evolves,” she says.

On the topic of canola, while in Japan, the minister says she was happy to have chair of the Canadian Canola Council, Jim Everson along to meet with key Japanese importers.

G20 meeting

Although China and canola remain the hot topic when getting the chance to speak with the minister, she did explain that other discussions took place during the two day meeting with other agriculture ministers.

In a declaration from the meeting, she says ministers are urging all nations to reduce barriers to international trade. She added, “Canada believes trade must be transparent and based on science so that the world can count on a continues supply of high quality food.”

While at the meeting, ministers also endorsed a concept pioneered by Canada dubbed “living labs.” The concept brings farmers and scientists together on the farm to collaborate on sustainable agriculture practises.

Among other topics discussed were the importance of women and younger farmers, and how they’re vital in the future of success for agriculture.

New NAFTA, durum, and pulses

As the meeting brings together agriculture ministers from Canada, the European Union and 18 other countries, Bibeau did have the chance to meet with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, as well as counterparts from Italy and India.

She says she raised Canada’s commitment towards a “new NAFTA” with Perdue, but stressed the need for the elimination of section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum to be removed in order to move forward. Bibeau added she brought up the need to reduce trade barriers on durum with Italy’s Minister Gian Marco Centinaio and stressed to India’s agriculture representative the need for open trade of Canadian pulses.

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