Canada PM touts agricultural safety amid China canola dispute

Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:54am EDT
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By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) - Canadian farm goods are high quality and safe, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in Beijing on Tuesday as his trade minister said Canada was working hard to resolve a canola import dispute that threatens C$2 billion ($1.5 billion) in business.

Trudeau is seeking deeper ties with China but a the canola spat, government divisions over China policy and the case of a detained citizen could limit his gains.

China is Canada's top export market for the oilseed, and Ottawa has taken an increasingly strong line in talks on a new standard, which industry participants say would significantly raise costs for exporters.

China says the standard is necessary to prevent the spread of blackleg disease from Canadian canola into Chinese crops of rapeseed, another name for the agricultural commodity.

Speaking to Chinese entrepreneurs shortly after landing in Beijing, Trudeau said Canada had always had a reputation as a safe, clean and responsible country.

"In our agriculture, we use high-quality products and we create high-quality products and goods," Trudeau said, without making direct reference to the canola dispute.

Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters after Trudeau's speech that Canada had made very clear what a key issue canola is.

"This is a big deal for Canada," she said. Canola is the country's second-largest trading product with China.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the China Entrepreneur Club Leaders Forum in Beijing, China, August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee