Exclusive: China to toughen standard on Canadian canola shipments

Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:10pm EST
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - China plans to toughen its standard for imported Canadian canola starting April 1, reducing the amount of foreign material it allows per shipment, an industry group warned Canada's exporters and processors on Tuesday.

China's quarantine authority, AQSIQ, notified the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on Tuesday that it will soon allow no more than 1 percent dockage, or the amount of foreign material per canola shipment, Canola Council of Canada President Patti Miller said in an email seen by Reuters.

"We will be talking about next steps in escalating the issue politically as well as through government channels," Miller wrote.

The current allowable dockage range is 2 percent to 2.5 percent, said a Canadian-based canola exporter, who did not have permission to speak publicly. Foreign material can include seeds of other plants or straw that gets inadvertently mixed with the shipment.

CFIA had no immediate comment. Miller and officials at China's consulate in Vancouver could not immediately be reached for comment.

The new standard will be difficult and costly for Canadian exporters to meet, said the canola exporter. Some traders may hesitate to ship canola to China for fear of having it rejected or discounted, the exporter added.

China has expressed renewed concerns since December about the possible presence of the fungus blackleg in shipments, but exporters suspect China's motivation for slowing imports is linked to its ample domestic inventories, the exporter said.

Traders and industry analysts in China have anticipated the dockage restriction since earlier this year and they attribute the decision to helping sell down China's large domestic rapeseed oil stockpiles, which deteriorate over time.   Continued...