Speech by the Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification, for media availability on canola with Minister Bibeau
Thank you, Minister Bibeau.
I want to begin by echoing Minister Bibeau’s remarks on the importance of resolving the issue of China’s restrictions on imports of Canadian canola seed.
The resolution of this issue is our priority. It is essential for our farmers and their families, for our agricultural industry and communities, and for the Canadian economy as a whole. Our farmers make calculated decisions on what they will plant each spring as early as harvest time. Those decisions impact not only next year’s crop, but the one after that and, often, even the one after that. A stable, predictable marketplace is a very important piece of that puzzle.
Canada invented canola, and we are proud of that. As a minister from the prairies, I am especially proud of that. Canola is Canada’s largest crop, and accounts for $11 billion of our exports each year and is sold in some 50 countries around the world.
I want to reassure Canadians: we are working through every available channel to resolve this issue.
Last week, I met with industry leaders and elected officials in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan. During those meetings, some key points were repeated again and again.
Canadian canola is known worldwide for its commitment to quality. I got to see this first-hand during a visit to a canola crushing plant near Clavet, Saskatchewan. Every step is taken to ensure a best-in-class, safe product.
We need to work together, with a “team Canada” approach to solving this. During my conversations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan last week, it was clear that all levels of government want to work together on this.
An open, predictable rules-based international trade is the only way global commerce can succeed in a way that benefits all citizens
While China is Canada’s second-largest single country trading partner, and this needs to be resolved, we should also be working to increase our Canola exports to other economies.
So, what’s next?
As Minister Bibeau stated, we are seeking to resolve our current market access challenges with China at the scientific level. If there is a problem with our shipments, show us the science so our skilled and dedicated industry leaders may rectify it.
Myself and Minister Bibeau will continue to be in touch with our key provincial counterparts and premiers over the coming weeks and months, and we will work together on a solution. We are on the same team here.
We need new markets. We are doing this with new trade agreements with Europe, and with the Asia-Pacific nations, and through the new NAFTA. We are also initiating discussions with ASEAN.
For Canadian exporters, the markets opened by the Asia-Pacific trade deal alone are expected to result in $780 million in new canola exports per year.
I am also having conversations with my counterparts from other economies who currently import Canadian canola, to discuss the possibilities of increasing those volumes.
We will continue to pursue these opportunities while working hard to resolve the current challenges with China.
Our high-quality agriculture and agri-food products are in demand around the globe and we want to ensure that customers have access to a wide variety of Canadian products.
China, and the world, can continue to have full confidence in Canadian products.
We will continue to work closely with Canadian producers and exporters, and our provincial counterparts to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
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