OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA — Close to hitting the one-year mark of China blocking Canadian canola imports, the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) is requesting federal intervention to resolve the trade dispute.

In March 2019, market access issues began affecting canola seed trade when China suspended the licenses of two Canadian companies to export their canola seed to China, citing non-compliance with its plant health requirements. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) noted that at the same time China strengthened its inspection measures on all Canadian canola seed shipments.

The CCC is requesting for a continued focus on having open market access to China reinstated, diversifying abroad by improving access to Asian markets and diversifying in Canada by increasing the use of biofuels to grow the country’s economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The canola sector is being targeted by China over a dispute with Canada,” said Jim Everson, president of the CCC. “Farmers and the industry they’re part of cannot continue to shoulder the impact of something entirely out of their control.”

According to the CCC, canola seed exports to China were down approximately 70% in 2019 due to trade disruptions, resulting in an estimated C$1 billion in lost revenue from canola. Prior to last year’s market access challenges, China accounted for approximately 40% of all Canadian canola seed, oil and meal exports.

Everson noted the federal government is committed to engaging Chinese authorities and resolving this dispute.

“Industry and governments are working closely to return to unimpeded trade with China,” Everson said. “Government needs to maintain an unrelenting focus on this goal.”

However, actions to support market diversification have not materialized.

“Despite dozens of meetings with government, only token actions have been taken,” Everson said. “More needs to be done to support diversification.”

Canola exporters and the CCC are working to diversify exports into new markets, especially in fast-growing markets in Asia. Exporters and the CCC are urging the federal government to commit additional resources to these markets and to coordinate with industry and the provinces to support market access.

The CCC also is asking the government to establish a stronger presence and more regular contact with regulators and policy makers especially in key Asian markets.

“Industry is taking steps to diversify,” the association said. “Government plays an important supportive role and needs to step up to support predictable trade.”

The CCC is looking to biofuels for possible diversification opportunities in Canada.

“Governments around the world are using biofuels to lower greenhouse gas emissions — no progress has been made by the federal government to increase biofuel content in diesel, which would support the canola sector and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the CCC said.

In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable fuel the CCC is advocating for the federal Clean Fuel Standard to provide a clear market signal by requiring use of renewable fuel content in Canada’s diesel supply.

“The federal government must act now,” Everson said. “We’re ready to work with all parties to find solutions.”

The CCC is a full value chain organization representing canola growers, processors, life science companies and exporters.