China lifts embargo on canola from Richardson and Viterra

The Chinese government has lifted restrictions on imports of canola from Canada’s two largest exporters that dated back to March 2019.

Richardson and Viterra were banned from shipping canola seed to China more than three years ago.

Both companies are listed as approved for exporting canola to China in a government document that was published on the Chinese General Administration of Customs’ website on May 18, 2022.

“This is a positive step forward, restoring full trade in canola with China and ensuring that all Canadian exporters are treated equally by the Chinese administration,” says Jim Everson, Canola Council of Canada (CCC) president, in a statement issued late Wednesday. “We will continue efforts to nurture and maintain a predictable, rules-based trade environment.”

“We welcome this decision to remove the restrictions and immediately reinstate the two companies to allow them to export Canadian canola seeds,” note Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and International Trade Minister Mary Ng in a joint statement issued by their departments.

Global Affairs Canada was planning to brief industry stakeholders late Wednesday.

The restrictions on Canadian canola were implemented in the months following the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada in December 2018. China alleged that canola shipments from Canada contained certain weed seeds and pathogens, leading to the termination of export permits for Richardson and Viterra.

While canola oil and meal exports continued, the Canola Council of Canada says seed exports to China fell from $2.8 billion in 2018 to $800 million in 2019 and $1.4 billion in 2020.

The Canadian government also brought the canola trade dispute to the World Trade Organization. The WTO established a dispute settlement panel in July 2021.

While the two companies’ export permits have been reinstated, industry sources say China’s strict rules regarding blackleg and dockage in Canadian canola remain in place.

The move by China to accept canola from Canada’s two largest exporters comes at a time when oilseeds are at record high prices, with tight global supplies.

There have also been major investments in more domestic canola processing capacity in Canada over the last two years, which could make it difficult for seed exports to reach pre-2019 levels.

More to come.

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