OTTAWA — Canada has used a major World Trade Organization gathering to demand China deliver evidence that Canadian canola is contaminated.
Stephen de Boer, the Canadian ambassador to the world’s leading trade body in Geneva, told the WTO’s general council on Tuesday that Canada wants to meet in China in good faith to hear its science-based concerns that recent Canadian canola shipments were, in fact, tainted.
China banned shipments from two Canadian canola companies last month. This week, the government announced China had similarly banned pork from two Canadian companies.
“Open and predictable rules-based international trade is the only way global commerce can succeed. Co-operation between WTO members — and willingness to engage on issues — is equally important,” de Boer said.
“Canada therefore concludes by asking again for China to provide the scientific evidence that supports its findings. This is a specific case, but I raise it in this setting because it’s an important example of the broader concerns and the trend of increasing trade-restrictive measures.”
De Boer’s intervention at one of the WTO’s most senior decision-making bodies is an attempt to push China, which has stonewalled requests for Canadian experts to travel to the People’s Republic to examine Chinese evidence on the canola.
The government says two separate inspections by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have turned up nothing, while several cabinet ministers have said China’s complaint about the quality of the canola shipments is not science-based.
China’s rejection of Canadian food products is part of the escalating tensions following the RCMP’s December arrest in Vancouver of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou. Canadian authorities detained her on a U.S. warrant alleging she committed fraud on American banks in an effort to get Huawei around sanctions against Iran.
Meng’s arrest infuriated China. Nine days later, China imprisoned two Canadians — ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor — and accused them of violating China’s national security. Both are still in custody.
While de Boer’s statement is not the formal complaint that Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has urged the government to launch, it represents the first formal opportunity to draw attention to the issue in front of a major meeting of the WTO, said a senior Canadian government official, who was not authorized to speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the situation.
China places great importance on being a member in good standing of the WTO, the world’s trade referee, especially as it tries to displace the United States as a global trade leader.
De Boer told the WTO council that Canada wants to be a good trading partner and if another country sees a problem with a Canadian export, Canada wants to find a solution.
Canada has been working hard to resolve this issue with China, using every available means on the ground in both countries, said de Boer.
While Canada was pressing its case at the WTO, a Nova Scotia cabinet minister said the federal government would welcome American influence to resolve the ongoing dispute with China.
“I would say that it would be helpful, for sure,” Rural Economic Development Minister Bernadette Jordan said in an interview. “It’s different times now in the world than we’ve faced even four years ago. We see challenges all around the world. And we will continue, as a government, to stand up for our Canadian products.”
Conservative MP Randy Hoback recently told the House of Commons agriculture committee he’s concerned China might decide to single out Canadian maple syrup or seafood next.
Jordan said her constituency is the largest lobster-producing riding in the country, and hardly a day goes by without her talking to a fisher.
In 2017, Canada exported 10 million kilograms of live lobster to China.
Canada’s efforts to diversify its markets for seafood continue apace with the ratification of free-trade deals with the European Union and the 10 Pacific Rim countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, she said.
“Yes, China accounts for a significant portion of our lobster sales — our seafood, it’s not just lobsters. But I think with the ability for us to open up Europe, our ability to open up other Asian markets, there is that potential to make sure that those challenges are mitigated.”
Jordan stressed there has been “absolutely no indication” of any movement by China to take trade action against Canadian seafood.
While she offered few details of what contingency plans the government may have if China does hit the seafood sector, Jordan suggested the government would come to its aid if necessary.
“We’ve worked with the canola farmers specifically on a package for them. I’m sure that when the time comes, if there’s a need, we will be there for our fishers as well.”
Last week, the government helped canola farmers by changing a special agricultural program that advances money against later crop sales. The change raises loan limits to $1 million from $400,000. The interest-free portion of that program is also rising to $500,000 from $100,000.
Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau told The Canadian Press the government wants to ensure producers “have the support they need” and officials are “dealing with issues that arise on a case-by-case basis.”
Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: ADDS quotes from Canada envoy to WTO
With the world’s population soaring to 10 billion people, Robert Saik explores how farmers “might” be able to feed everyone
Earth’s population will be close to 10 billion people by 2050. So consider this line from Robert Saik’s “FOOD 5.0″…
“In order to feed the world, we have to grow 10,000 years’ worth of food in the next 30 years, which means farmers worldwide must increase their food production by 60 to 70%.”
If that doesn’t wake you up… probably nothing can. How will farmers do it? Even with today’s technology this it going to take an overwhelming international effort to avoid a mass-starvation.
His first book, “The Agriculture Manifesto – Ten Key Drivers That Will Shape Agriculture in the Next Decade” was a 2014 Best of Amazon Books and this TEDx Talk “Will Agriculture be Allowed to Feed 9 Billion People?” has been viewed over 150,000 times.
In a time where more and more people (in the first world) are demanding to know where their food is coming from and how food is being produced, “FOOD 5.0 How We Feed The Future” should be required reading.
Robert Saik in the Author Hour Podcast:
“Food 5.0, How We Feed the Future was written for an urban audience, more so than a farming audience. My mental image of who I wrote the book for was a 33-year-old mom in a city with some kids who is working and raising her kids.”
“We live in a time now where all the technologies are smashing together–they are converging on the farm to reshape the farm in ways that urban people just simply do not understand. It is happening at a breakneck pace and farms are far more sophisticated, far more advanced than people realize.”
” you’re going to realize and learn a lot about food production and a lot about marketing.”
In FOOD 5.0 How We Feed The Future, Robert Saik examines “how technology convergence is reshaping the farm and the consumer”.
Robert has been hailed as an agriculture futurist with unparalleled insight into where the industry is headed. He’s worked with a variety of agriculturalists from Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture to Bill Gates.
He is the CEO of DOT Farm Solutions, which supports farmers adopting autonomous robotics in broad acre agriculture. He’s also the founder of AG Viser Pro, a platform that Uber-izes knowledge and wisdom, enabling farmers to instantaneously connect with agriculture experts worldwide.
Robert is a passionate keynote speaker and is executive producer of the Know Ideas Media a science based multi-media company addressing issues such as GMO’s and their use in food production. (Know Ideas Media is a partner in Todayville.com/Agriculture)
He serves on several Boards, is an advisor to Olds College, is a member of the A100 (Alberta Tech Entrepreneur Network), a student of Strategic Coach and Singularity University and a member of Abundance 360. As a partner in Perigro Venture Partners he participates in early stage technology investments.
He been recognized for agriculture leadership by the Alberta Institute of Agrologists (Provincial Distinguished Agrologist of the Year) and in 2016 was awarded Canadian Agri-Marketer of the Year by the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association.
Here’s a story produced by Todayville on Robert’s visit to Seattle to brief Bill Gates.
Prospect of U.S.-China trade deal creates access worries for Canadian farmers
OTTAWA — China’s move to stop buying several Canadian agricultural products has punished some farmers, and now industry leaders are worrying about the prospect of a broader threat — an eventual U.S.-China trade deal.
Canadian exports of beef, pork, canola and soybeans have largely been locked out of the massive Chinese market following the December arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.
At the same time, a handful of Canadian crops have had stronger sales to China over the past year, such as Canadian wheat, thanks to trade-related tariffs imposed by the U.S.
Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance president Brian Innes says Canada may see indirect benefits from the trade war in the short term — but he worries a deal down the road could have a negative impact on farm exports to China.
Innes says President Donald Trump has been clear that any trade deal must include China agreeing to make major agricultural purchases from the U.S.
He says Canadian exporters would like to see the government push for the removal of non-tariff barriers in other foreign markets — such as those in Europe and the Pacific Rim — because they have prevented farmers from fully benefiting from multilateral trade deals.
At the moment, there are few signs of progress in the U.S.-China trade talks, but negotiators are expected to meet next month.
The Canadian Press
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