It appears Canadian pulse crops headed to India will be exempt from a significant phytosanitary trade barrier for the indefinite future following the resumption of trade talks between the two countries this week.
Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng met with her Indian counterpart Shri Piyush Goyal in Delhi on Friday (pictured above) for the first high-level Canadian government visit since Prime Minister Trudeau’s highly-criticized trip in 2018.
In addition to re-launching negotiations on the Canada-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the ministers agreed to pursue an “early progress” agreement that would include commitments around sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
Both countries also agreed to “undertake intensified work with respect to the recognition of Canada’s systems approach to pest risk management in pulses,” according to a joint statement.
As part of that work, India has committed to lifting the pre-arrival fumigation requirement for Canadian pulse shipments until a permanent solution is found, a move that builds on the recent promise by the Indian government to exempt Canadian pulses from the fumigation requirement until 2024.
The fumigation requirement has been an on-again, off-again phytosanitary barrier and source of uncertainty for sales into Canada’s largest pulse crop export market going back to 2004. Canada has repeatedly sought exemptions from the requirement, as the required fumigant — methyl bromide — is ineffective in Canada’s cold temperatures and viewed as a pollutant. Without the exemption, un-fumigated shipments are subject to a penalty or fee upon arrival.
“We are encouraged to see the priorities of the Canadian pulse industry featured prominently in trade talks, specifically the focus on advancing Canada’s system-based approach and the inclusion of additional sanitary and phytosanitary measures in an Early Progress Agreement,” says Corey Loessin, chair of Pulse Canada, in a statement shared with RealAgriculture.
“It will be important to build on the positive momentum from India’s recent announcement regarding the indefinite allowance of pulse imports without penalty in case of fumigation on arrival with methyl bromide by finalizing a permanent solution based on a recognition of Canada’s systems approach,” he continues.
Overall, Loessin says it was positive to hear both sides express strong support for international rules-based order and supply chain resilience in critical sectors.
As for agricultural imports from India, Canada agreed to work on market access for Indian-grown crops such as sweet corn, baby corn, and banana. The Canadian side also agreed to expedite its consideration of a request to facilitate organic food imports from India.
Negotiations between India and Canada on CEPA were launched in 2010. The most recent round of talks were held in 2017.