The Chinese government will sign off next week on three new biotechnology patents for Canadian canola producers that were developed in Canada, a move the Canadian canola industry says will trigger an extra $400 million in annual export sales to China.
The biotechnology was developed mostly in Canadian labs and was approved for use in Canada by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency five years ago. The bio-engineered seeds will produce plants more resistant to weeds, drought and disease, helping farmers improve their yields.
The Canadian canola industry began the approval process in China in 2012. Global News has learned that Chinese officials are ready to move to the final phase of approvals, a move to be announced when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other Canadian officials visit Beijing Monday.
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“It’s really important that we seek this and secure this approval from China so that Canadian farmers can take advantage of this innovation,” said Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada, an industry umbrella group.
The canola industry’s attempt to boost export sales in China by introducing an innovative new product is a case study of what other industry sectors can expect as they look for a bigger slice of the Chinese market.
First, expect the Chinese regulatory process to move very slowly and, second, the Chinese will expect industry to work closely with governments, in addition to industry, to open new markets.
Canola is the single largest commodity Canada exports to China with annual sales topping more than US$10 billion a year.
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And since Canola is by far the number one source of revenue for Canadian farmers, the Chinese market is crucial for Canadian agricultural prosperity.
Top Canadian canola industry officials will also be in China next week to witness the signing ceremony on the approvals of the new biotechnology patents. But they will also be there to push forward trade talks between Canada and China.
The Chinese government charges a steep tariff on all canola imports, including canola from Canada. The canola industry eliminating those tariffs as part of a new Canada-China trade deal could drive another $1.5-billion in annual canola exports to China, wealth that would come back to Canada and create jobs and prosperity among canola growers, mostly in Western Canada, but also at canola processing and crushing plants in urban areas, like the Ontario cities of Hamilton and Windsor.