WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA — Hopes that a dispute with China over imports of Canadian canola would be resolved quickly are disappearing as the ban has spread to all imports of the commodity, the Canola Council of Canada said.

Earlier this month, China rejected shipments of canola from Canada-based Richardson International. The council said on March 21 that canola exporters report Chinese importers are “unwilling to purchase Canadian canola seed at this time.”

“We’re disappointed that differing viewpoints cannot be resolved quickly,” said Jim Everson, president of the CCC. “Under the circumstances, Canadian canola seed exporters who normally ship to China have no alternative but to supply customers in other countries who value high quality Canadian canola.”

China’s General Administration of Customs said on its website March 26, effective immediately, that it had canceled Viterra's registration and was no longer accepting canola from the Regina-based company.

A Viterra spokesperson said the company is working with the government and the CCC to gather more information on the situation.

"All of our export products are tested to ensure they meet specific import standards. We take quality concerns seriously and support a sound, science based approach in the testing of our exports," the spokesperson said. "Market access issues such as this one hurt our industry and Canadian farmers. We are hopeful for a quick resolution to this matter.” 

China is a major market for Canadian canola, taking 40% of all canola seed, oil and meal exports. The CCC said seed exports to China were worth $2.7 billion in 2018.

China officials had said concerns about insect infestation caused it to reject the earlier shipments. However, there is speculation of political retaliation tied to the December arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive with Chinese telecommunications company Huawei.

During the Canadian Crops Convention in Montreal earlier this month, Canada’s foreign affairs and agriculture minister pledged their support of Canadian canola and promised the government was working hard on a solution.

“Canadian ministers and government officials have responded quickly to Chinese concerns, however, technical discussions are unlikely to lead to an immediate resolution,” Everson said. “We urge the government of Canada to continue to intensify efforts to resolve the situation.”

The CCC said the canola industry makes every effort to meet the requirements of customers around the world.

“Canadian canola is one of the highest quality because of our world-class quality assurance systems,” Everson said. “We have a long-standing history of delivering on quality and reliability. We will continue to provide our customers with high-quality canola and promote stable trade based on science.”