China’s embassy has asked Canada to suspend meat exports to the country over what it calls “forged” certificates, a statement said Tuesday.
In response, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has ceased issuing export certificates to China for all beef and pork products.
In the statement, the Chinese embassy said customs authorities detected ractopamine in a batch of pork products that Canada had sent to China.
Ractopamine is a feed additive that’s banned in certain countries, but it can be used in Canada.
China has “immediately suspended the import of pork products from the relevant enterprises and required the Canadian side to carry out investigation,” the statement said.
Further investigation found 188 examples of “counterfeit” veterinary health certificates, the embassy added.
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In a statement, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA) found an issue involving “inauthentic export certificates” that could affect beef and pork exports to China.
The incident is “specific to export certificates from China,” and does not affect them for other countries, the statement said.
“Our government will always stand shoulder to shoulder with our producers and workers, who export the finest products around the world,” Bibeau said.
The development comes amid increasing tensions between Canada and China following the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is being held on house arrest pending a possible extradition to face charges in the United States.
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China, meanwhile, has detained two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, on suspicion of collecting state secrets for foreign actors.
Canadian pork producers could take a big hit from the suspension.
In April 2019, pork exports to China totaled over $310 million, representing 22.7 per cent of Canada’s total – they had increased by nearly 80 per cent from the same month a year prior.
China also represented Canada’s third-biggest export market for pork that month, behind the U.S. and Japan.
In the same month, beef and veal exports to China totaled over $63 million, representing 6.1 per cent of Canada’s total – these had increased by 344 per cent, year over year.
China was Canada’s fifth-biggest destination for beef and veal exports that month, following the U.S., Japan, Hong Kong and Mexico.
In a statement, Conservative agriculture critic Luc Berthold accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s Liberals of “failing Canada’s meat sector.”
“It is clear that this is not an issue of food safety, but a political issue caused by Justin Trudeau’s incompetence and weakness on the world stage,” the statement said.
“Canada has already lost Chinese market access for canola, soy, and now meat. And while this has been taking place, the Trudeau Liberals have failed to take decisive action and stand up to the Chinese government.
“This is just another example of Trudeau’s failed leadership on the world stage.”
- With files from Reuters and The Associated Press