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Could ag be caught in turmoil between Canada and China?

Could ag be caught in turmoil between Canada and China?

One commodity strategist is worried it could happen

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A commodity strategist is concerned China could target parts of the Canadian ag sector as retaliation for Canada expelling a Chinese diplomat.

“I’m worried China could retaliate against canola and pork,” said Moe Agostino, chief commodity strategist with Risk Management. “I think the Canadian relationship with China is stressed, so it’s a big, big concern.”

China may not place restrictions on Canadian products, but they may not purchase any.

China’s recent actions indicate they’re moving away from trading partners in the west, Agostino said.

“They seem to be favoring more eastern trading partners,” he said. “I think it’s mostly because of the war (in Ukraine) and what’s going on. Just recently they bought corn from South Africa.”

Agostino’s comments come after Canada expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei on Monday for alleged involvement in threats against Conservative MP Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong.

A day later, China expelled Canada’s diplomat, Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, and called Canada’s accusations false.

China has a history of targeting trade in other disputes.

With Canada, China took action against Canadian canola and meat in 2019 following the RCMP’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. authorities.

China resumed imports of Canadian pork and beef in November 2019, and lifted its ban on Canadian canola in May 2022.

During China’s ban, exports of Canadian canola dropped from $2.8 billion in 2018 to $1.8 billion in 2021.

In March 2021, China banned imports of Taiwanese pineapples citing pest issues, though Taiwanese officials claimed no pest problems.

And back in 2010, China suspended trade with Norway and restricted salmon imports after Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese political prisoner, won the Nobel Peace Prize. The two countries repaired their relationship in 2016.

Members of the Canadian ag industry hope it isn’t a casualty of this recent diplomatic issue.

“China is a very important market for canola, and we had market access challenges for a period of time,” Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada, told “What we communicate to our Chinese customers and Canadian government about, is that we benefit from predictable market access. We hope that continues to be the case.”

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