The Canadian pulse industry has been granted another stop-gap extension for a key fumigation requirement, but nobody is mistaking this development for a permanent solution.
India, a key market for the crops, fears shipments could be contaminated with nematodes, something they say could put their domestic crops at risk. Therefore they require shipments to be treated with methyl bromide, a product that’s not used in Canada. The temporary waiver allows the ships to be treated at Indian ports, says Gord Kurbis, Pulse Canada’s director of market access and trade policy.
“It’s been shown that methyl bromide fumigation isn’t effective at the low temperatures that can be present at port in Western Canada. There is a waiver that says, yes, in this case we can fumigate in India, instead of requiring fumigation in the port of origin,” said Kurbis. “However, if there continues to need to be six-month extensions, which we understand are required because of an artifact within Indian legislation, then what we need to have happen is adequate notification, so that we have predictability for uninterrupted trade.”
This most recent extension allows the pulses to be treated on arrival in India, until March 31, 2017.
The uncertainty could have serious implications for shipments caught in limbo.
“If you had a bulk vessel of pulses, let’s say loaded sometime in August, that would arrive hypothetically on October 1, after the September 30 waiver had expired, then that vessel could run into some market access problems in India,” said Kurbis. “And while that has obvious costs to companies that are in the export trade, let’s face it, those costs trickle back to the farm gate.”
Pulse Canada said it is working with both Canadian and Indian officials to find a permanent solution to the issue, whatever that might be. The six-month-long waivers have been occurring, one after another, for nearly a decade.
“We’ve been working very closely with the high commission in New Delhi, for most of September we have been engaged with it on a daily, or near-daily basis, he said. “The next step is that we will work with our officials so that the appropriate technical exchange between the national plant protection organizations of India and Canada occurs.”
The organization is also working closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to better understand India’s phytosanitary requirements, said Kurbis.
“Those requirements should be laid out with an appreciation that there needs to be adequate notice given to trade to ensure uninterrupted exports,” he said. “And that if there are any import requirement changes that are being contemplated, then industry needs to be given time to make those adjustments, so that they can make sure that shipments are compliant with Indian import requirements.”
India is the largest importer of Canadian pulse exports.