Thursday, May 16, 2019

Canadian agriculture could be in dire straits

Depending on how trade tensions play out, Canadian agriculture could end in dire straits judging by analysis by three agricultural economists who are members of Agti-Food Economic Systems in Guelph.

China could end up short of food as a result of African Swine Fever and won’t need as much hog feed, so will import less canola and grain from Canada.

It’s also testing World Trade Organization standards; it has claimed, without proof, that Canadian canola was contaminated with pests and suspended Canada’s two largest canola-supplying companies; it cut off pork from two Canadian companies because the Canadian Food Inspection Agency certificates had not been replaced by a newer version, and it has held up Canadian soybeans at its ports, prompting traders to stop shipping Canadian soybeans to China.

The three economists say the future of the World Trade Organization is in play as Canada and China spar and negotiate. 

If they cut a deal that leaves other nations out, Ted Bilyea said “this could signal the beginning of the end for the WTO”.

Mike Gifford said “we run the very real risk of the international trade system progressively unravelling”.

Al Mussel said “China’s response to its food situation, and its resolution of trade tensions with the US, will be historical inflection points for Canadian agri-food, and the global economy”. 

So far there Is no indication that China is willing to back down, either in trade relations with the United States or in its troublesome response to Canada’s detention of a senior executive of government-owned Huawei.

Canada arrested the woman in response to an extradition request from the United States which claims she violated trade sanctions against Iran.