(Ottawa, ON) The cost of the “temporary suspension” of Canadian pork and beef exports to China imposed on June 25 is approaching $100 million and the longer it continues, the greater the risk to Canadian jobs. As we enter the third month of suspension, the pork and beef sectors are calling on the Government to make clear their strategy to reopen the Chinese market and ensure we have more options for export diversification when such issues arise.
The suspension of product came on June 25th, triggered by China Customs discovering a shipment of non-Canadian pork exhibiting technical irregularities and fraudulently certified as Canadian with falsified documents. Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has provided China Customs with all the information and analysis requested to demonstrate that the source of the infractions was not Canadian. CFIA has also assured China of the strong mechanisms in place in Canada to ensure compliance with all of China’s technical requirements.
Canadian pork and beef farmers and exporters have been patient and supported the Government’s efforts to find a resolution to the issue. However, as CFIA’s representations that Canada is a victim, not a culprit, have failed to resolve the matter, it becomes clear that bigger political issues are the true obstacles that the Canadian government must resolve.
We call on all parties ahead of the upcoming election to articulate how they see this file being resolved. The longer Canadian producers and exporters remain pawns in a political stand-off – the more the threat of job losses will be felt. The red meat sector represents 266,000 jobs from farm to fork.
We have been patient and respectful with the Government. But we are entering our third month out of China and as Chinese importers establish arrangements with alternate suppliers, it will be increasingly difficult for Canada to regain market share once the suspension is lifted. The financial investments made and commercial relations built to position Canadian meat in China are eroding daily and our global brand will be negatively impacted.
The industry also expects to have a meaningful discussion on building export resilience and compensation for the millions of dollars lost by the Canadian farmers and exporters who have been the victims of the suspension. The red meat sector has seen its highs and lows in this market over the years but China remains a key trading partner for Canada. Canada has high quality and safe meat to sell and we know Chinese consumers want and need it.