China trade can be boosted

Agri-food exports could thrive but Canada needs to push to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers


By Alex Binkley, Contributor, Manitoba Co-operator

December 3, 2018


China is a growing market for Canadian agri-food exports and could become even more important if it reduces tariffs and other trade barriers, says the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance.


The call came as four federal cabinet ministers were in China to discuss improved relations. While a free trade deal with China seems far away, proposals to advance commercial links on a sector-by-sector basis could benefit the agri-food sector, CAFTA said.


Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Treasury Board president Scott Brison are in Beijing for the Canada-China Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue. MacAulay attended other events beforehand.


Carr and Morneau co-chaired the Canada-China Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue (EFSD). During it, the two countries agreed “to double agricultural trade by 2025, focus on priority sectors like agriculture and energy, and committed to strengthening economic and commercial co-operation as well as continuing exploratory discussions towards a potential comprehensive trade agreement,” Global Affairs Canada said.


The prospects for increased trade were underlined by $1.67 billion in commercial deals signed by 48 Canadian companies during a trade show in Shanghai prior to the EFSD in Beijing. The two countries agree to work on regulatory co-operation and give financial companies more occasions to work together and to seek opportunities in both countries.


President Jeff Nielsen of Grain Growers of Canada welcomed agreement by China to identify agriculture as a priority sector and committed to double agricultural trade between Canada and China by 2025.


“Grain farmers know how important a strong trade relationship with China is, given that it is already a top export market for most crops,” he said. “The commitment made by the two governments underscores that they appreciate the strength of the relationship and the potential that exists for future growth.”


Agriculture will only achieve its full potential if more work is done to resolve the tariff and non-tariff barriers that are holding back trade between the two countries, he said.


However, EFSD should strengthen two-way trade of grains, oilseeds and pulses, encourage long-term commercial supply arrangements in key agricultural commodities and carry out approval processes for biotechnology traits in a scientific and timely manner, he said...