UPDATE 2-Canada wins China canola access, sees Russia meat barriers

Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:05am EDT
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* 600,000-tonne oilseed plant to accept Canada canola
    * Russia to restrict meat imports from large Canadian

    By Rod Nickel
    April 16 (Reuters) - China has softened its 3-year-old
import restrictions on Canadian canola, while Russia is set to
erect barriers to some of Canada's biggest meat-packing plants,
Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on Tuesday.
    China approved one additional oilseed crushing plant, the
600,000-tonne CNOOC-Biolux plant in Nantong, Jiangsu
province, to accept shipments of Canadian canola seed, a crop
used to produce vegetable oil and animal feed. 
    It continues to restrict imports of Canadian canola due to
concerns about the fungal disease blackleg.
    China's latest move is significant because it is the first
Chinese plant near the country's domestic rapeseed crops - a
close relative of canola - to accept Canadian canola since 2009,
Ritz said in an interview with Reuters.
    "We're beginning to see a change in their methodology and
their ability to absorb Canadian canola without that fear of the
blackleg," Ritz said.
    China granted the access on a trial basis, which Ritz said
is normal, while the two governments and industries work out a
long-term solution.
    Canada has now been granted access to three additional
Chinese plants over the last few months, giving it additional
access to a combined 1 million tonnes of crushing capacity, said
Patti Miller, president of the Canola Council of Canada.  
    In total, 11 Chinese oilseed crushing facilities with a
combined annual capacity of 5.5 million tonnes now accept
Canadian canola.
    Canada is the world's biggest producer of canola, called
rapeseed in some countries, just ahead of China. China's move
comes a few weeks after it agreed to allow imports of Australian
canola under specific conditions. 
    ICE Canada canola futures continued to trade higher
after news of the additional Chinese access.
    While Canada gains canola access to China, it is scheduled
to see pork and beef shipments to Russia shrink starting on
    A post on Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary service
(VPSS) website (www.fsvps.ru) said restrictions on meat imports
are scheduled to go into place against Canada's biggest meat
packers, Cargill Ltd, JBS, Maple Leaf Foods
 and Olymel LP. 
    Russia has said it is concerned about use of the livestock
feed additive ractopamine, and has already banned U.S. beef,
pork and turkey and some meat shipments from Mexico.
    The VPSS has a lengthy list on its website of restrictions
scheduled for some Canadian packers, as well as import approvals
for other, mostly smaller Canadian plants.
    "That's their list and we'll continue to work with them to
expand that list to make it as full as possible," Ritz said.
    He did not rule out seeking retaliatory trade measures
against Russia, a fellow World Trade Organization member,
following Ritz's scheduled visit to Russia later this spring.
    "We're waiting to see to what extent they press this, and at
some point we'll have to have that assessment done," he said.
"We'll keep our options open until that point."
    The three largest Canadian beef plants - Cargill's plants at
High River, Alberta, and Guelph, Ontario, and the JBS plant at
Brooks, Alberta - face restrictions starting April 17, according
to the VPSS site.
    Russia will accept pork from Maple Leaf Foods Inc's 
plants in Lethbridge, Alberta, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, but is
restricting access starting April 17 for the company's flagship
facility in Brandon, Manitoba. Olymel LP, the other major
Canadian pork processor, can ship to Russia from its Red Deer,
Alberta, plant and several other facilities, with restrictions
scheduled for its St-Hyacinthe, Quebec, plant.
    Canada is the world's third-largest pork exporter and the
sixth-largest shipper of beef and veal.
    Russia is one of the world's two biggest importers of beef
and veal with the United States and the second-biggest pork
importer after Japan, according to U.S. Department of
Agriculture data.