Canada fight­ing China’s canola ban

The Prince George Citizen - - News -

Canada has re­quested a for­mal meet­ing with China at the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion to re­solve a Chi­nese ban on Cana­dian canola ship­ments.

In­ter­na­tional Trade Min­is­ter Jim Carr an­nounced Fri­day that Canada is seek­ing a bi­lat­eral con­sul­ta­tion at the WTO be­cause the two sides have been un­able to re­solve the is­sue.

China’s de­ci­sion to ban canola ship­ments is part of dis­in­te­grat­ing re­la­tions with Canada fol­low­ing the RCMP’s De­cem­ber ar­rest of Huawei ex­ec­u­tive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. ex­tra­di­tion war­rant.

Nine days later, China im­pris­oned two Cana­dian men, ex-diplo­mat Michael Kovrig and en­tre­pre­neur Michael Spa­vor, on sus­pi­cion of spy­ing in what is widely viewed as re­tal­i­a­tion for Meng’s ar­rest.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said ear­lier this week that China uses ar­bi­trary detentions as a tool to achieve its in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal goals.

That com­ment sparked the ire of a spokesman for China’s for­eign min­istry on Fri­day, who re­it­er­ated Bei­jing’s po­si­tion that Meng’s ar­rest had no ba­sis in law and Canada was act­ing as an Amer­i­can pawn.

Carr said in a state­ment that Canada’s ac­tion at the WTO is part of its com­mit­ment to “rules-based in­ter­na­tional trade” on be­half of Cana­dian farm­ers who have been hit by the canola ban.

“Canada has con­tin­ued to en­gage with China at var­i­ous lev­els with a view to re­solv­ing the is­sue. In order to make progress, Canada is seek­ing bi­lat­eral con­sul­ta­tions at the WTO, which is the usual next step when di­rect en­gage­ment does not lead to res­o­lu­tion,” Carr said.

China blocked im­ports of Cana­dian canola seeds, al­leg­ing in­spec­tors found pests in some ship­ments. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment says it has tried un­suc­cess­fully to send a del­e­ga­tion of Cana­dian ex­perts to China to ex­am­ine the ev­i­dence.

The gov­ern­ment has sup­plied an ad­di­tional $150 mil­lion in in­sur­ance to canola farm­ers.

“We stand by our ro­bust food in­spec­tion sys­tem and will con­tinue to keep farm­ers, pro­duc­ers and other stake­hold­ers in­formed of our progress,” said Carr.

Saskatchew­an’s Trade and Ex­port Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Jeremy Harrison said Fri­day the fed­eral move was months over­due.

“We’d been call­ing for the na­tional gov­ern­ment to ini­ti­ate the WTO chal­lenge from vir­tu­ally Day 1 of the Chi­nese de­ci­sion to ex­clude canola into their mar­ket,” said Harrison.

“If they had ini­ti­ated it in April, when I think was when we first asked them to do that, that would have been six months fur­ther along in this process than we are right now.”

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