The canola industry is expressing concern that China will retaliate to Canada's expulsion of its diplomat by blocking agricultural shipments.

China blocked canola shipments from two major Canadian companies in 2019 not long after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian authorities, and the ban lasted for three years. 

The ban lasted for three years before being lifted in 2022.

On Monday, the Canadian government expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei, alleging he was involved in a plot to intimidate Conservative MP Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong.

Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada, said maintaining predictable market access is key for Canadian farmers and that although supportive steps have been taken by the federal government, nothing can replace access to an important market like China.

China's block on canola shipments took a toll on the industry as the value of Canadian canola exports dropped from $2.8 billion in 2018 to $1.8 billion in 2021, the last full year under the ban.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2023.