China halts pork and beef imports from Canada

Just days before the G20 Osaka Summit is set to take place, China has banned all Canadian meat exports.

According to the Chinese Embassy in Canada, the investigation into last week’s Ractopamine findings “revealed that the official veterinary health certificates attached to the batch of pork exported to China were counterfeit” and reflects “obvious safety loopholes” in the Canadian meat export supervision system.

China, the embassy confirms, has requested the suspension of meat exports from Canada, “to protect the safety of Chinese consumers.”

Tensions between Canada and China remain tight ever since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, business executive and daughter of the founder of Huawei.

In a statement to RealAgriculture, the office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Marie-Claude Bibeau, confirmed the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has identified an issue involving inauthentic export certificates, and that it continues to investigate; work closely with industry partners and Chinese officials; and has informed the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

“Our government will always stand shoulder to shoulder with our producers and workers, who export the finest products around the world,” continues the statement. “We are focused on diversifying our trade to ensure our farmers have access to new markets and we will keep working to grow our exports.

“The Canadian food system is one of the best in the world, and we are confident in the safety of Canadian products and Canadian exports.”

China is Canada’s third largest importer of Canadian beef, with mainland China and Hong Kong importing roughly 7.7 per cent per year. Last year, Canada’s pork exports were valued at almost $4 billion, of which $514 million was exported to China.

Update: the start of reactions

According to the CPC, CFIA has stopped issuing export certificates to China for all pork and beef products as of June, 25. The CPC claims “this halt in Canadian exports is not the result of a food safety concern but the misuse of Canada’s reputation as a supplier of safe quality products.”

Along with the Canadian Meat Council and Canada Pork International, CPC says they are working closely with the government to better understand the situation and figure out what the next steps, if any, will be.

“We are aware that Canadian government officials have been in contact with their Chinese counterparts and are hopeful this will lead to a quick resolution,” continues the statement.

Meanwhile, the president of the National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA) says China as a trading partner is vital to the Canadian beef industry and, “we regret this development.”

“Trade agreement decisions and their subsequent alterations need to be based on science; and trade rules need to be respected in making such alterations,” Janice Tranberg, president and CEO of the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association (ACFA) and National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA), tells RealAgriculture. “NCFA urges the government to work with China to restore normal market access in a timely manner and stands ready to support and assist the government in any way possible.”

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