China trade trip seen clearing paths for beef, fruit, hay

A Canadian trade mission to China is reported to be paying dividends including a formal agreement through which China will move toward accepting Canadian bone-in beef.

That agreement, announced Tuesday, calls for China to work with Canadian officials to provide access for Canadian bone-in beef derived from animals less than 30 months of age (UTMs) as well as access for live cattle.

The federal government said Tuesday it expects the Chinese market for Canadian beef to expand to $240 million per year, and for live cattle to $150 million, once access is granted for UTM bone-in beef. China in 2010 agreed to a “staged approach” on restoring Canadian beef access, starting that year with boneless UTM beef.

“The expanded market access we agreed to will ensure our agriculture producers and processors are competitive in the lucrative Chinese market,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a release.

Canada’s beef exports to China have grown “rapidly” since 2012 due to an expanding middle class with an appetite for beef, to the point where the country’s demand has grown “well beyond what they are able to produce domestically,” said Canadian Cattlemen’s Association president Dave Solverson, who’s travelling with Ritz.

Some forecasts, Solverson said, indicate China “could double its global imports of beef per year before the end of this decade.”

“Trial period”

During the trip, Ritz met with his Chinese counterpart, Han Changfu, and with Wei Chuanzhong, China’s vice-minister of general administration of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine (AQSIQ).

With the latter, Ritz on Tuesday signed a protocol expected to lead to access for timothy hay to China, estimated to be worth $8 million over the next five years for Canadian timothy exporters.

Wei and Ritz also jointly pledged to “modernize” the two countries’ live swine protocol to reflect “recent animal health and disease control science-based approaches.” That, in turn, is expected to boost the competitiveness of live Canadian hogs in China leading to sales of up to $11 million a year.

“The Chinese market is vitally important to the Canadian pork industry, with pork sales to that country last year exceeding, for the first time, a quarter of a billion dollars,” Jean-Guy Vincent, chairman of the Canadian Pork Council and another mission participant, said in a separate release Thursday.

The two countries also initialled a phytosanitary arrangement for a “trial shipping period,” expected to lead to permanent access for exports of fresh British Columbia cherries — access which the industry valued at $20 million in exports per year, the government said.

“The B.C. government has worked closely with cherry growers, the federal government and Chinese importers to reach this agreement,” provincial Ag Minister Norm Letnick, who’s travelling with the trade mission, said in a separate release.

Contracts

China has also agreed to “expedite” work to allow the sale of fresh B.C. blueberries into China. B.C. exporters estimated the value of that access at up to $65 million per year, the federal government said.

“We look forward to building on this momentum and playing the same role in helping gain access for fresh B.C. blueberries, as well as working to expand the markets for B.C. pork, wine, seafood and other products,” Letnick said Tuesday.

During the trip, Ritz reported Manitoba’s Prairie Orchard Farms signed a deal for an omega-3 protocol feed trial project, valued at $200 million.

That project, the government said, is expected to lead to sales of omega-3 feed and technology, toward production in China of “omega 3” eggs, high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Ritz said he also saw contracts valued at $80 million signed for delivery of Canadian alfalfa hay to the Chinese market. — AGCanada.com Network

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