China gives Canada reprieve in canola dispute by extending deadline, says minister

Chinese government plans to enforce tighter regulations around canola exports

Canada's international trade minister says the rules governing shipments of Canadian canola to China will remain in place until both countries can reach a new agreement on acceptable import standards.

Chrystia Freeland, who is part of the delegation travelling with the prime minister in Shanghai, said today that the Liberal government is committed to reaching a new canola regime with China as soon as possible. In the meantime, however, she says the current rules will stand.

Before Justin Trudeau's visit to the Communist nation, China had planned to enforce tighter regulations on the amount of foreign materials—such as weeds, other crops and detritus—permitted in canola exports from Canada.

But today's deadline for the change was lifted earlier this week after Trudeau met in Beijing with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Freeland—who was raised on a canola farm in northern Alberta—says the news came as a relief for canola farmers, who can be assured that their shipments won't be refused at Chinese ports.

READ: Canada working hard to resolve China canola trade dispute

"Canadian exporters and Canadian farmers now know that they are able to load up their canola and ship it to China,'' Freeland said.

Asked how long the existing rules would apply, Freeland responded "until we reach a permanent agreement.''

China wants Canada to cut the level of foreign contaminants, known as dockage, considered acceptable in its canola exports, by more than half.

It has raised concerns that Canadian canola could carry blackleg disease, which could spread into Chinese crops.

Freeland dismissed the concern Thursday, suggesting it was a negotiating tactic, and calling Canada's products safe.

"It's very healthy, it's great for Canadians, it's great for Chinese consumers.''

Canadian farmers sold $2 billion worth of canola seed last year in China—or 40 per cent of the country's exports of the crop.


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