Is China suspending Canadian pork? Trade Minister Carr says product origin unclear
A top Canadian cabinet official on Wednesday refused to link China’s move to block Canadian meat exports to the arrest of a senior Huawei executive.
“There is no way of knowing for sure,” Jim Carr, Canada’s international trade diversification minister, told BNN Bloomberg on Wednesday when asked of a possible connection to the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in December.
Beijing halted Canadian meat imports to China on Tuesday due to the reported detection of a restricted additive that could threaten to exacerbate already-simmering trade tensions between the two nations. China took exception to Meng’s arrest, demanding her release, and has since detained two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, accusing both of espionage.
China also stopped imports of Canadian canola in late March over alleged pests in export shipments. The country also suspended import permits for three pork producers over food safety issues last week.
Carr said the government needs to “get to the bottom” of how these documents were falsified and led to the suspension request.
“Somebody is falsifying Canadian export certificates,” Carr said. “Someone think that there’s an advantage in using the Canada brand to get into the Chinese market.
“It’s a problem and we’re going to get to the bottom of it. We’re working with provincial counterparts, with the industry officials involved, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Chinese themselves so that we can come up with some idea of where this product comes from and how to determine who’s falsifying these export certificates to get to the bottom of it.”
However, one trade expert told BNN Bloomberg earlier on Wednesday that China is “happy to hurt” Canada through trade over Meng’s arrest.
“Going into the [Group of 20 meetings], China is looking at ramping up the pressure on Canada over the Meng Wanzhou case,” Eric Miller, president and founder of Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, told BNN Bloomberg on Wednesday. “And certainly, they were not blind to the discussions between Prime Minister Trudeau and President Trump last week in Washington.
“So, they are putting this out as a marker to Canada, saying: ‘We are very happy to hurt you and hurt your exports to China if you don’t do what we want.’”
Last week in D.C., Trump vowed that “anything I can do to help Canada I will be doing,” in regard to the two Canadians being imprisoned in China ahead of a possible trade meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Carr said he hopes to put these tensions in the rearview mirror, pointing out that Richardson International Ltd., one of the companies hit by the canola ban, has been doing business in China for more than a century.
“We’ve been doing business for a long time with China. We’re going through a difficult period,” Carr said.
“We want to get through the period and we want to establish better relations with the world’s second-largest economy.”