Prime Minister Trudeau’s upcoming trip to China, December 3-7, caps a frenetic year of trade missions to the world’s second-largest economy. With an enviable growth rate of 6.5 per cent in 2017, China’s new middle class represents an irresistible market. There are five megacities of more than 10 million people and 14 cities of five million plus.
British Columbia’s cherry growers, for example, have enjoyed early success since 2014. And Nova Scotia’s wild blueberry growers have just signed a memorandum-of-understanding.
“China is a significant opportunity for Canadian fruit and vegetable producers,” explains
Rebecca Lee, executive director, Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC). “Removing high tariffs is an important step, but it is also critically important that we resolve non-tariff barriers by harmonizing regulations.”
The Canadian Horticultural Council encourages the Canadian government to work with Chinese officials to align regulations based on science, and in a way that is consistent with Canadian values, including labour, environmental, and food safety standards.”
Current issues facing the industry are:
- Border delays = spoiled produce = risk = disincentive to trade. Due to inconsistencies across entry points, unannounced changes to regulations, and unreliable application of Chinese import regulations, fresh produce often gets held up at the border. These delays can easily affect the quality of fresh produce. Product that spoils in transit costs Canadian growers money. Many growers choose to not take the risk, which impacts potential export growth.
- CHC supports harmonization (based on science) for the following issues, which will reduce delays / rejection of produce at the borders: phytosanitary requirements, maximum residue limits, food safety regulations, water standards, and organic certification.
- Strict Chinese phytosanitary requirements hinder greenhouse tomatoes and peppers from entering the market, and Canadian apples are no longer exported to China due to the strict requirements.
- Canadian growers are worried about pressure from lower-cost Chinese produce in Canada, as Canadian growers incur much higher costs than their Chinese counterparts. CHC urges the government to apply Canadian laws and requirements to any produce imported from China, including: labour, food safety regulations, and carbon pricing policies.
- Canada’s Market Access Secretariat process can result in lengthy delays in approving agricultural products, which may be due to a lack of government resources for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).