Saskatchewan canola farmers push Ottawa to sort out China trade dispute that’s blocking some exports

SASKATOON — The organization that represents rural communities in Saskatchewan says Ottawa must do more to sort out a trade dispute with China that is affecting some Canadian canola exports.

The canola impasse is top of mind for delegates attending the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities annual convention in Saskatoon.

Most delegates are farmers and their main cash crop is canola.

Canada exported about $3.6 billion worth of canola seed, oil and meal to China in 2017.

Ray Orb, the association’s president, says China’s decision to restrict sales from Winnipeg-based Richardson International Ltd. has negatively affected prices and created market uncertainty.

He says they will be asking federal Trade Minister Jim Carr if he plans to meet with Chinese officials to resolve the problem.

“We think that is what their plan should be,” Orb said Tuesday.

“The federal government should have this as one of its highest priorities. It has a huge impact, not only to Western Canada and Saskatchewan, but to the Canadian economy because of the jobs and spinoffs.”

Carr is to speak to the association Thursday.

Some delegates believe China is using the tactic to pressure Ottawa over the arrest in Canada of a senior official from a Chinese telecommunications company.

China’s foreign ministry has said it is blocking imports from Richardson International due to fears of insect infestation.

Canada supplies about 40 per cent of China’s canola imports.

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