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After China meat ban, Bibeau says ‘too early’ for producer compensation

‘Too early’ to talk compensation for meat producers, Bibeau says
WATCH: 'Too early' to talk compensation for meat producers, Bibeau says

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says it’s “too early” to consider whether the government should compensate domestic producers taking a financial hit from China‘s ban on Canadian meat.

Speaking with reporters on Wednesday following a meeting with beef and pork industry stakeholders, Bibeau was asked at what point the government would consider helping farmers weather the impact of the embargo put in place by China.

READ MORE: China should investigate ‘own backyard’ over forged Canadian meat certificates: experts

That ban was put in place last month after China claimed to have found 188 “counterfeit” veterinary certificates for meat labelled as being imported from Canada, also alleging there were trace amounts of a banned feed additive called ractopamine in some of the meats.

China represents Canada’s third-largest market for pork and fifth-largest for beef exports, meaning the ban has the potential to carry significant hurt for those industries, which exported $310 million worth of pork to China in April 2019 and $63 million of beef and veal in the same period.

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WATCH: China bans all Canadian meat due to forged documents

China bans all Canadian meat due to forged documents; Ottawa suggests meat wasn’t from Canada
China bans all Canadian meat due to forged documents; Ottawa suggests meat wasn’t from Canada

“It’s too early to talk about compensation,” said Bibeau.

“We are still at the early stage of this issue. Our first priority is to reopen the market. We have daily conversations with the Chinese authorities, which gives me hope we will find a solution.”

She added: “We have to reassure our Chinese partners for them to reopen the market.”

She also said Canada has proposed a plan to reassure them, but didn’t specify details,

“We proposed a plan with additional measures for the (meat) export system in a way to tighten it and raise awareness so they reopen the market as soon as possible.”

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The ban on Canadian meat came as tensions between the two countries continued to increase following the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in December, at the request of the United States.

Since then, China has arrested two Canadians and charged them with espionage, and tightened trade restrictions. Along with the meat ban, Canadian canola exports have been suspended over claims they were contaminated.

The rift between the two countries was apparent after the recent G20 summit — where U.S. President Donald Trump brought up the detained Canadians with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

READ MORE: China scolds Canada for ‘mustering so-called allies’ on detainees

China denounces Canada for ‘naive’ approach over detained citizens
China denounces Canada for ‘naive’ approach over detained citizens

China claimed Wednesday that Canada was being “naive” in its approach to addressing the detention of its citizens by “mustering so-called allies,” such as the United States.

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International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr said Wednesday that that turning to allies is not an “unusual” move.

“Who are they to say there’s no value in Canada talking to its allies about issues we have abroad? In a multilateral system, that’s how we do diplomacy,” Carr said.

— With files from Global News’ Maham Abedi