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China blocks Canadian attempt to resolve canola issue with WTO panel

China blocks Canadian attempt to resolve canola issue with WTO panel

Canada can make another request on July 26

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

China is delaying Canada’s attempts to use a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel to resolve an ongoing canola issue.

On June 18, Canada requested the WTO establish a panel to examine China’s measures to block Canadian canola imports for about two years.

In March 2019, China suspended canola imports from Viterra and Richardson International and imposed stricter measures on other Canadian companies exporting canola to China.

It’s believed China implemented these barriers to canola seed shipments in response to Canada arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on Dec. 1, 2018.

Canada made the arrest at the request of the U.S., who charged her with bank and wire fraud.

On June 28, 2021, China “said it regrets Canada’s request and it was not in a position, to accept the establishment of a panel,” a document on the WTO’s website says.

The Canola Council of Canada supports Canada’s panel request.

WTO members only need to wait 60 days before requesting a formal panel. Canada has waited close to 600.

And since no resolution has come, a panel is necessary.

“The canola industry had hoped that the bilateral consultations between Canada and China would lead to a resolution, restoring full trade in canola seed and ensuring all Canadian exporters are treated equally by the Chinese administration. In the absence of progress, this is the next step to resolve the dispute and preserve rules-based, predictable trade with China,” the organization told in an emailed statement.

China’s block of the panel is not the end of the road for Canada.

WTO members can block “the creation of a panel once. But when the Dispute Settlement Body meets for a second time, the appointment can no longer be blocked (unless there is a consensus against appointing the panel),” the WTO’s rules indicate.

Canada can request another panel on July 26.

The Canadian government is prepared to continue supporting farmers in this matter.

“Canada, standing shoulder to shoulder with its farmers and workers, will take the necessary steps to ensure they have the support they need to succeed in international markets,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement. “Canada is confident that its canola seed exports meet China’s import requirements and is committed to regaining full market access for canola seed exports to China."

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