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China will resume Canadian pork imports

China will resume imports of Canadian beef and pork, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this week, some four months after Beijing blocked shipments amid an escalating diplomatic feud between the two countries.

6 November 2019, at 9:30am

"Good news for Canadian farmers today: Canadian pork and beef exports to China will resume," Trudeau tweeted.

A spokesman at China's foreign ministry confirmed today (6 November) that it had resumed allowing imports of the meat, adding that Canada has addressed the safety concerns it had and come up with a "rectification" plan.

"After China assessed this it believed that Canada's rectification plan was basically in accordance with China's demands to ensure safety, and agreed to resume acceptance of sanitary documents issued by the Canadian government's competent authority for meat product exports to China," spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily media briefing.

Early this year China stopped purchasing Canadian canola seed, citing pest concerns, and in June authorities halted imports of Canadian beef and pork, citing bogus export certificates. Canadian officials confirmed at the time they had found falsified documents.

China was Canada's third-largest pork market by value through August, with C$491 million ($373 million) in exports.

In July Canada offered a plan to reassure China about the security of its meat export system, and Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has insisted the pork-and-beef trade issue was different from the canola dispute. Canada is challenging China on canola at the World Trade Organization.

Speaking to Farmscape, Canadian Meat Council President and CEO Chris White says the matter was resolved in part as the result of changes made by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to address gaps identified by China and work done by individual exporters to tighten up their own internal processes.

"The [Canadian] industry sells a lot of specific pork product to China and it's allowed them in a very competitive industry to carve out a niche for themselves so the loss of that market this year was very very difficult.

"Canada was building toward about a billion dollars worth of exports so to have lost that was really discouraging.

"On the beef side, less so because most of the beef still goes to the US and there's not the same consumption rate of beef in China as there is with pork. That being said, the consumption of beef and the export of beef was also trending up this year.

"It's such a large market, that Canada will move quickly and industry will move quickly to recapture any of the market share that it lost this year while the suspension was in place.

"With African swine fever being an issue, we know that China will be struggling to replace pork products that they've lost because of domestic challenges.

"Going forward Canada will do what it needs to do to ensure that any product that we're exporting to China, be it pork or beef, can get in as easily as possible.

"That again speaks to the tighter measures that CFIA will have in place internally and some tighter controls that industry will have in place internally as well."

White says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is in a position to begin issuing export certificates immediately and he expects individual companies to be moving as quickly as they can to get products back in transit to China.

Canada's red meat industry estimated in September that China's suspension of imports had cost the sector close to C$100 million in losses.