China’s measures against Canadian canola with blackleg disease will restrict 70 per cent of Canada’s canola sales to its biggest export market, the Canola Council of Canada said Nov. 10.
China’s quarantine authority said importers of canola from Canada and Australia must apply for import permits before signing contracts as of Nov. 15 to prevent blackleg disease spreading to China’s domestic rapeseed crop.
China’s measures will mean canola with the disease, which is the majority of shipments, can be directed only to ports away from Chinese rapeseed-growing areas for the rest of the current crop year. Ports in those rapeseed areas are the ones most regularly used by Canadian exporters.
Canadian government officials have been in Beijing for two weeks trying to negotiate an extension of the Nov. 15 date or other ways to keep canola separate from China’s rapeseed.
“The measures are highly restrictive,” said a statement issued by the canola council. “We are frustrated and disappointed that China has been unwilling to consider (other) steps.”
China imported 2.87 million tonnes of Canadian canola last year, worth $1.3 billion.
All canola cargoes from Canada and Australia must carry a certificate from quarantine authorities in these two countries assuring the cargoes have been tested for blackleg disease. But the canola council said it’s unlikely shipments can be certified blackleg free given how common the disease is in Canada and elsewhere in the world. It’s unclear what rules will apply to Canadian canola beyond the current crop year, the council said.
Canadian officials will remain in Beijing to work toward resolving the issue, said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in a statement.
“China’s processing industry depends on premium-quality Canadian canola and these unnecessary restrictions will cause expensive disruptions to our partnership in this sector,” Ritz said.
Ritz has said earlier that he believed the two governments could resolve the dispute without Canada requesting a settlement panel from the World Trade Organization. The canola council called on the Canadian government to make the canola dispute its top priority in relations with China. Blackleg, a disease caused by a fungus that can kill the canola plant but poses no health risk to humans, is commonly found on canola seed. It is not a major threat to Canadian crops because of resistant crop varieties.
Chinese traders said as many as eight canola cargoes have been cancelled by the Chinese buyers.
Chinese crushers have booked more than 1.2 million tonnes of new crop from Canada.
China’s measures came after Beijing began support programs for its rapeseed farmers, offering higher prices and stockpiling large quantities for state reserves over the past two years. China also produced a record harvest this year.
But high government prices prompted crushers to import cheap Canadian canola.