February 27, 2020 – As the first anniversary of China’s decision to block imports of Canadian canola approaches, the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) is calling on the federal government to resolve the dispute and to support industry diversification efforts.
This includes a continued focus on having open market access to China reinstated, diversifying abroad by improving access to Asian markets and diversifying here at home by increasing the use of biofuels to grow Canada’s economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The canola sector is being targeted by China over a dispute with Canada,” says Jim Everson, president of the CCC. “Farmers and the industry they’re part of cannot continue to shoulder the impact of something entirely out of their control.”
Canola seed exports to China were down approximately 70 per cent in 2019 due to trade disruptions, resulting in an estimated $1 billion in lost revenue from canola. Prior to last year’s market access challenges, China accounted for approximately 40 per cent of all Canadian canola seed, oil and meal exports.
The federal government is committed to engaging Chinese authorities and resolving this dispute. Everson says, “Industry and governments are working closely to return to unimpeded trade with China. Government needs to maintain an unrelenting focus on this goal.”
However, actions to support market diversification have not materialized. “Despite dozens of meetings with government, only token actions have been taken,” says Everson. “More needs to be done to support diversification.”
Canola exporters and the CCC are working to diversify exports into new markets, especially in fast growing markets in Asia. We are urging the federal government to commit additional resources to these markets and to coordinate with industry and the provinces to support market access.
The Council is urging government to establish a stronger presence and more regular contact with regulators and policy makers especially in key Asian markets. Diversification means creating the infrastructure to communicate on a technical and policy level between governments. “Industry is taking steps to diversify. Government plays an important supportive role and needs to step up to support predictable trade.”
Diversification is also possible here in Canada as biofuels are a significant growth opportunity. “Governments around the world are using biofuels to lower greenhouse gas emissions – no progress has been made by the federal government to increase biofuel content in diesel, which would support the canola sector and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Biofuel use is a proven way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing renewable fuel content in diesel to five per cent will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.5 million tonnes per year. The CCC is advocating for the federal Clean Fuel Standard to provide a clear market signal by requiring use of renewable fuel content in Canada’s diesel supply.
“The federal government must act now,” says Everson. “We’re ready to work with all parties to find solutions.”
The Canola Council of Canada is a full value chain organization representing canola growers, processors, life science companies and exporters. Visit canolacouncil.org to learn more.
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The Alberta Canola Producers Commission is a farmer directed organization representing Alberta’s 14,000 canola growers and is a core funder of the Canola Council of Canada.