China has suspended the licenses of two of Canada’s biggest canola producers, Richardson International and Viterra, and banned canola shipments from Canada over the past few months, claiming that the shipments were contaminated with pests.
Relations between China and Canada have deteriorated since Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request last December. Beijing has detained two Canadian citizens in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest, and escalated the sentence of another Canadian charged with drug trafficking offences to the death penalty.
Producers in Canada are now reporting that soybeans, peas, and pork shipments are also facing obstacles entering China.
Canadian officials say China’s cited concerns are baseless, and have asked for Canadian inspectors to be allowed to examine the shipments in China, but their requests have been denied.
“We want to have a science conversation with the Chinese to verify any allegations that the very high-quality Canadian canola has any impurities at all,” Carr said.
“Meanwhile, it’s important that we look for other markets for our canola and certainly Asia-Pacific is among them, including Japan.”
Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer said that in response to China’s rejection of Canadian exports, Ottawa should pull hundreds of dollars that Canada has committed to China’s multilateral development bank.
Scheer said in a news conference on April 29 that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should cut off a promised $256 million to China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, launch a complaint about the canola ban with the World Trade Organization, and increase support for Canadian farmers who are being harmed with the export blockage. He also said Trudeau should appoint a new ambassador to China. The position has been vacant since former ambassador John McCallum was fired after he made remarks that implied he favoured the release of Meng.
“By doing nothing, this policy of appeasement that Justin Trudeau has pursued with the government in China has clearly not worked,” Scheer said.
Trudeau has said that his government will be “doing more on the canola file” and there will be an announcement in the coming days.
“It is not an easy situation. It is one we’ve taken very seriously,” he said
The ongoing issues between Canada and China were also discussed between Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited Ottawa on April 28.
Trudeau said China is “trying to impose its approach on countries around the world. As countries like Japan and Canada continue to engage economically with China, we have to deal with some of these challenges.”
Abe said Canada and Japan are united in their approach to China since they share democratic values, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights.
“We shall have to raise our voices in unity together so that China will go towards a positive, constructive role,” Abe said.
With files from The Canadian Press and Reuters