Pork, beef exports to China to resume nearly five months after suspension

OTTAWA — A Chinese ban on the import of Canadian pork and beef products estimated to have cost farmers almost $100 million to date is being lifted, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday.

“Good news for Canadian farmers today: Canadian pork and beef exports to China will resume,” Trudeau said on Twitter.

China had suspended imports in June, saying its customs inspectors detected residue from a restricted feed additive in a batch of Canadian pork products. A subsequent investigation found forged veterinary health certificates attached to the batch, which led to an RCMP investigation.

But the suspension also came at a challenging time in Canada-China relations following Canada’s detention late last year of a top executive at the Chinese tech company Huawei, and the subsequent arrest of two Canadians in Beijing — a move that’s been widely seen as retaliation for the December arrest of Meng Wanzhou.

In September, the Canadian Meat Council added up the financial cost of the suspension to Canadian industry, pegging it at close to $100 million.

On Tuesday, they heralded the resumption of trade as good news.

“Our long-standing trade relationship with China is very important to both sides and this represents an important step for both countries,” Chris White, president of the Canadian Meat Council, said in a statement.

Both White and Trudeau extended particular thanks to Canada’s new ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, who became Trudeau’s envoy to China in September, just prior to the start of the federal election campaign.

Diplomatic relations between Canada and China have been tense since arrest of Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei. She was detained at the request of the U.S. over allegations of violating sanctions on Iran. Her extradition trial begins in January.

Days later, China imprisoned Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Barton has since met with both.

China’s own new ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, also took up his new duties in September.

China still bans the import of Canadian canola seed, over what they allege is contamination.

That dispute that has made its way to the World Trade Organization.

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