Canada optimistic about making progress to end China canola ban -PM
(Refiles to add UPDATE 3 to headline, no changes to text)
By David Ljunggren and Mark Weinraub
OTTAWA/CHICAGO, March 22 (Reuters) - Canada is optimistic it
can make progress this year in talks to persuade China to allow
imports of Canadian canola seed to resume, Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau said on Friday, even as tensions between Ottawa and
Beijing reach new highs.
Trudeau spoke hours after an industry group said Chinese
importers had stopped buying Canadian canola, adding that
purchases from the major customer were not expected to resume
Canada and China are locked in a dispute over trade and
telecoms technology that has mushroomed since police in
Vancouver arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial
Officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant in December. She is
awaiting an extradition hearing.
"We're going to roll up our sleeves and work with the
Chinese officials to demonstrate that canola should continue to
flow safely from Canada to China," Trudeau told a televised news
conference in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
"This is something we take very seriously ... we are
optimistic we are going to be able to make headway this year."
China said this month it had suspended the clearance of
canola imports from Richardson International, Canada's largest
exporter of canola to China. The Canola Council of Canada now
says no imports are getting through.
"We are finding that Chinese importers are unwilling to
negotiate new sales for canola seed at a time when we would
anticipate they would normally be doing do," said Jim Everson,
the group's president.
Canola futures sank 3.1 percent on Friday, their
biggest daily decline since July 2018, to a two-week low.
A spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau
said plant health experts from Canada and China had discussed
the matter this week and exchanged technical information.
"Officials from both countries will continue to engage in
order to find a science-based solution to this issue as quickly
as possible," Katie Hawkins said in an email.
China has been a major market for Canadian canola,
accounting for approximately 40 percent of all of the country's
canola seed, oil and meal exports, the council said.
"We think that market will continue to grow but we have a
current circumstance that is very challenging," Everson said in
a phone interview from Winnipeg, Manitoba, saying it would be "a
real challenge" to find other alternative purchases.
China's foreign ministry has said it had discovered pests in
canola imports from Canada. Richardson International said its
canola met regulatory requirements.
Everson said "often these issues around science are not that
clear and objective", adding "it can sometimes take time to
determine" the right protocols for tests.
The development is another headache for Trudeau, who has
been under pressure since February in a political crisis that
threatens his chances of re-election in October.
Trudeau denies that he or his officials interfered in the
judicial system amid allegations officials leaned on his former
justice minister to help ensure a construction company avoided a
"Justin Trudeau's government is in chaos and he isn't
addressing the real issues facing Canadians. Time for the
Liberals to act and stand up for our proud canola industry,"
said Andrew Scheer, leader of the opposition Conservative Party.
(Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and
First Published: 2019-03-22 16:34:21
Updated 2019-03-22 22:23:11
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