Seed World

China Lifts Richardson, Viterra Canola Seed Import Bans

China has reinstated canola seed import access for Richardson International and Viterra, a May 18 statement from Global Affairs Canada said. The statement noted Canada has been advised China has reinstated access to its market for two Canadian companies that China Customs had suspended from exporting canola seed to China since March 2019.

“We welcome this decision to remove the restrictions and immediately reinstate the two companies to allow them to export Canadian canola seeds,” Mary Ng, minister of international trade, export promotion, small business and economic development, and Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food, said in the statement.

“We will continue to work with Canadian canola farmers, businesses, exporters, and their communities to defend their interests and support their success at home and in markets abroad, including China.”

“This is a positive step forward, restoring full trade in canola with China and ensuring that all Canadian exporters are treated equally by the Chinese administration,” Jim Everson, Canola Council of Canada (CCC) president said in a news release. “We will continue efforts to nurture and maintain a predictable, rules-based trade environment. We thank Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, International Trade Minister Mary Ng and Canada’s trade officials for their support in bringing about today’s announcement.”

The market access restrictions were put in place in March 2019, with China first placing restrictions on Richardson and then later on Viterra. At the time China said the restrictions were due to quarantine pests being found in canola seed deliveries from the two companies. However, it was widely viewed the restrictions were retaliation for Canada detaining Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese executive for Huawei, on a United States arrest warrant.

Seed exports to China from Canada fell from $2.8 billion in 2018 before the restrictions, to $800 million in 2019, $1.4 billion in 2020 and $1.8 billion in 2021, the CCC said. Other Canadian exporters reported they still received some purchases of canola seed from China, but exports were down between 50 and 70 per cent compared to pre-blockage levels. Oil and meal exports continued.

Canada requested World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations with China in September 2019. The WTO members agreed to establish a panel in July 2021 for this case and the panel was composed in November 2021.

Wanzhou was released from house arrest in Vancouver, B.C. in September, 2021 and returned to China. Following her return China released two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who had been detained after Wanzhou’s arrest.

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