Time is running out for Canada and China to come to terms with their ongoing dispute on canola. Should Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his entourage not reach agreement with their Chinese counterparts prior to Sept. 1, China will start enacting a requirement that extraneous plant material in canola seed amount to less than one percent of each shipment to reduce the possibility of blackleg fungal disease.
Currently, the maximum is 2.5 percent.
For months, Canada has argued that this requirement is unrealistic and impossible to achieve and have worked for years using fungicides and crop rotations to lessen the possibility of blackleg.
Canadian officials, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and federal agriculture and trade officials, are currently in Beijing to hammer out a deal that would be acceptable to both parties, but thus far, neither are budging.
“It is a pretty difficult time right now,” said Patti Miller, president of the Canola Council of Canola in an interview with Reuters. “Both sides have been very open in expressing their desire to find a resolution, but there is significant difference in opinion.”
The imposition would result in higher cleaning costs for Canadian producers and currently, Canadian shipments of canola to China after Sept. 1 have been stopped, already impacting the $2 billion canola export to China.
Talks between the two broke down on Friday without resolution, but both are hopeful that an agreement will be reached.
The move by China may also have serious ramifications on free trade agreements between the two countries.
The Canadian government called the issue a “priority” and are continuing to work toward a resolution.
Prime Minister Trudeau is slated to have official discussions with China ahead of the Group of 20 meetings. Trudeau has said in the past that he would work to expand trade with China, so officials (and Canadian producers) are hopeful that he will live up to his promise by settling the canola dispute.
If he can not do that, there will be a lot more at stake when it comes to trade between Canada and China.