China raps Ottawa as dispute over Canada canola exports deepens

Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:24pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A dispute over C$2 billion ($1.55 billion) worth of Canadian canola exports to China intensified on Thursday when Beijing criticized Ottawa's insistence that bilateral relations could not improve until the matter is settled.

The situation threatens to mar Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's visit to China next week.

"We oppose linking a concrete issue of bilateral trade with China-Canada relations," the Chinese embassy in Ottawa said by email.

Canada, the world's biggest canola exporter, wants China, its top export market for the oilseed, to drop plans to toughen inspection standards on Sept 1. The crop is used mainly to produce vegetable oil.

China says the tougher standard on foreign material is needed to protect against crop disease.

"The quarantine of canola is merely a technical issue that should be solved properly through consultations by relevant competent departments," said the embassy.

The mission issued its statement after Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Wednesday that "we cannot take the next step in our relationship with China" until the issue had been resolved.

Freeland called Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng late on Wednesday to convey Canada's concerns, but her intervention did not produce an immediate breakthrough.   Continued...

A canola crop used for making cooking oil sits in full bloom on the Canadian prairies near Fort Macleod, Alberta, July 11, 2011. REUTERS/Todd Korol