The Canadian government has succeeded in its second approach to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to set up a panel to look into China’s restrictions on its canola seed exports, Yahoo News reported on 27 July from a South China Morning Post article.

China suspended imports of canola seeds from Richardson International and Viterra in March 2019, while also enhancing inspections on shipments from other Canadian companies, according to the report.

Canada’s first attempt to establish a panel had been blocked by China at the end of June, but Beijing could not gain the consensus to stop the move at a meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body on 26 July in Geneva, Yahoo News wrote.

The Canola Council of Canada had issued a statement saying it supported the government’s action, the report said.

“The canola industry had hoped that the bilateral consultations between Canada and China would lead to a resolution, restoring full trade in canola seed and ensuring all Canadian exporters were treated equally by the Chinese administration.

“In the absence of progress, this is the next step to resolve the dispute and preserve rules-based, predictable trade with China,” the statement said.

According to the Canola Council of Canada, Canada exported 11.8M tonnes of canola seeds to all overseas markets in 2020, with China the largest export market at 2.6M tonnes, just ahead of the European Union and Japan.

Data taken from Statistics Canada and the Canadian International Merchandise Trade Database had shown that so far this year Canada had exported 4.1M tonnes of canola seeds up to the end of May, with 1M tonnes shipped to China, the report said.

Exports from other Canadian firms were down between 50% and 70% compared with levels seen before both the ban and the enhanced inspections had been put into place, according to the Canola Council of Canada.

The industry body claimed that the value of Canada’s canola seed exports to China had fallen from US$2.27bn in 2018 to US$650M in 2019 and US$1.13bn in 2020, according to the report.

While exports of canola oil and meal had continued, analysis by Leftfield Commodity Research in February had estimated that the disruptions had cost the industry between US$1.25bn and US$1.9bn, due to lost sales and lower prices, Yahoo News reported.