Canada calls out on China at WTO council meeting for evidence to back canola ban
via KTIC (NE) - May 7, 2019
Canada has used a major World Trade Organization gathering to demand China deliver evidence that Canadian canola is contaminated.
Stephen de Boer, the Canadian ambassador to the world’s leading trade body in Geneva, told the WTO’s general council on Tuesday that Canada wants to meet in China in good faith to hear its science-based concerns that recent Canadian canola shipments were, in fact, tainted.
China banned shipments from two Canadian canola companies last month. This week, the government announced China had similarly banned pork from two Canadian companies.
De Boer’s intervention at one of the WTO’s most senior decision-making bodies is an attempt to push China, which has stonewalled requests for Canadian experts to travel to the People’s Republic to examine Chinese evidence on the canola.
The government says two separate inspections by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have turned up nothing, while several cabinet ministers have said China’s complaint about the quality of the canola shipments is not science-based.
China’s rejection of Canadian food products is part of the escalating tensions following the RCMP’s December arrest in Vancouver of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant alleging fraud.
Meng’s arrest infuriated China. Nine days later, China imprisoned two Canadians — ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor — and accused them of violating China’s national security. Both are still in custody.
While de Boer’s statement is not the formal complaint that Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has urged the government to launch, it represents the first formal opportunity to draw attention to the issue in front of a major meeting of the WTO, said a senior Canadian government official, who was not authorized to speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the situation.
China places great importance on being a member in good standing of the WTO, the world’s trade referee, especially as it tries to displace the United States as a global trade leader.
De Boer told the WTO council that Canada wants to be a good trading partner and if another country identifies a problem with a Canadian export, then it wants to find a solution.
Canada has been working hard to resolve this issue with China using every available means on the ground in China and in Canada, said de Boer.
“But to do so we need to fully understand the problem and that’s why it’s important for them to show us the evidence,” said the senior Canadian government official. “Open and predictable rules-based trade is the cornerstone of international commerce. These are tough and difficult moments but it’s frank and open dialogue while standing up for Canadian values and interests that will resolve them.”
While Canada was pressing its case at the WTO, a Nova Scotia cabinet minister said the federal government would welcome American influence to resolve the ongoing dispute with China...