Canadian beef still on China’s naughty list one year after atypical BSE case

It was one year ago this month that Canada disclosed the finding of an atypical case of BSE. While the finding didn’t impact most markets, it did create trade frustrations with China that are still not rectified.

Unlike classical BSE cases, atypical BSE appears spontaneously in older cattle, even in countries where no classical BSE has ever been reported. Canada immediately reported the case, which was detected as part of the country’s BSE surveillance program, to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on December 17, 2021.

While the Philippines and South Korea have resumed the imports of Canadian beef, China’s market has still not returned to normal.  The Chinese customs administration stopped issuing certificates for beef and beef products from Canada, while hides are still eligible for export.

According to a spokesperson at the Canadian Cattle Association, there is “no update” on the matter and what the path to trade resumption would require.

Even without the Chinese market, Canadian exporters performed well in other Asian countries, such as Japan.  According to Anne Wasko of the Gateway Livestock Exchange, “the market did a great job of not missing a beat — beef flowed to other countries easily. It really shows why market diversification is so important.”

If you are wondering why this issue is not being talked about more, Canada is said to be taking a “low key approach” with the idea that “the less profile it gets, the easier it is for trade to resume,” according to a Canadian Cattle Association spokesperson.

In the absence of Canadian beef, the U.S. has made hay, increasing trade by 10 million pounds per month over 2021.

This isn’t the first trade issue with China in recent years. Just last May, China finally lifted a multi-year ban on canola seed exports from a few large Canadian companies. That ban was predicated on pest problems in shipments. The same year that ban occurred, the country also stopped beef and pork imports for more than four months. The temporary ban stemmed from China finding falsified veterinary health certificates for Canadian pork shipments.

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