The prime minister should take the issue to the World Trade Organization, the Conservative leader said
By Diego Flammini
Opening a dispute through the World Trade Organization (WTO) can help get Canadian canola back into China, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said.
Prime Minister Trudeau should “launch an official trade complaint against China,” Scheer said during a press conference Monday. “The WTO is the appropriate body to adjudicate this dispute and, given the world-class quality of Canadian canola and China’s flimsy reasons for its blockade, I’m confident Canada would prevail.”
China is blocking canola exports based on geopolitical issues and not science, so asking the WTO to intervene should be “low-hanging fruit” for the government, Scheer said.
Scheer outlined other ways Canada can end the trade dispute with China.
Canada has been without an ambassador to China since the prime minister asked for John McCallum’s resignation in January. McCallum had made comments related to the case of Meng Wanzhou, a detained Huawei executive.
Canada arrested Wanzhou on Dec. 1, 2018 at the request of the U.S., and it’s believed China’s decision to block Canadian canola is related to the arrest.
Appointing a new ambassador to China would help smooth out relations between the two countries, Scheer said.
“Canada is seriously underrepresented in one of the world’s most important capital cities and Mr. Trudeau should fix this right away,” he said.
Scheer’s also called on the prime minister to increase financial aid for producers.
“By increasing the maximum loan under the Advance Payments Program from $400,000 to $1 million, and by temporarily suspending the interest collected, Mr. Trudeau will give farmers and much-needed lifeline during this crisis,” Scheer said.
Canola growers agree with some of the strategies the Conservative leader proposed.
Having a Canadian representative in China is important to bilateral relations, said Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada.
“I’ve called on the government to try to appoint an ambassador as quickly as possible,” he told Farms.com. “We’ve had strong support but we do think an ambassador plays a special role and would be helpful to the cause.”
One of Mr. Scheer’s ideas, however, should be viewed as a last resort.
All options should be exercised before getting the WTO involved, Everson said.
“It’s a matter of last resort in our minds,” he said. “It’s not a quick resolution to the issue and it’s not something we want to do. We very much value the market in China and want to work with Chinese authorities to regain access to the market.
“But, if we can’t organize a dialogue to talk about the issues they’ve raised, it is important that Canada defend its interests.”
The federal government may be preparing to help canola growers.
Speaking at the Toyota plant in Cambridge, Ont., Monday, Prime Minister Trudeau reassured farmers his government is “absolutely going to be doing more on the canola file,” CBC reported. An announcement is “coming out in a few days,” he said.