China targets third Canadian rapeseed producer: Canadian minister

3 Apr 2019 | Andy Allan

A third Canadian rapeseed exporter has received a non-compliance notice from Chinese officials, a government minister said late Tuesday, in what is seen as an escalation of a trade dispute between the two countries that could engulf other commodities including soybeans.

Speaking to a parliamentary committee, Canada’s agriculture minister, Marie Claude Bibeau said: “A third company has received a non-compliance notification. It doesn’t mean that they are suspended at this time.”

Bibeau said she could not state the company that was facing a possible suspension.

The minister was answering questions put to her by MP John Barlow, who said that there were now concerns that the dispute over rapeseed exports, which has dragged on for months, is now starting to spread to other commodities.

“My concern is here we have certainly had worries raised by stakeholders and producers that canola is just the first commodity to be targeted. Current contracts that have been signed are being honoured by China but new contracts on other products are not being signed,” he said.

Last week rapeseed exporter Viterra was suspended from exporting the oilseed to China, joining Richardson International on China's blacklist over allegations that both companies exporting cargoes that were contaminated.

At about 4.5 million mt a year, Canada is the biggest supplier of rapeseed to China.

The dispute comes amid rising diplomatic tensions between the two countries over Chinese protests related to the arrest by Canadian police of an executive at telcoms giant Huawei last December.

And while the trade dispute has so far focussed just on rapeseed, there are fears it will spread to other commodities.

Last year, Canadian exports of soybeans to China surged 80% after a trade war between the US and China saw crushers boycott US soybeans.

“We have nothing confirmed officially that there is an impact on other commodities, but the situation is creating uncertainty in the markets and uncertainties might bring some buyers or importers of our products to delay,” Bibeau said.

Canada has asked China to receive an official delegation of food scientists as soon as possible to end the dispute over rapeseed exports.

The uncertainty comes as Canadian farmers decide on what crops to plant.