Reprieve granted in India pulse fumigation dispute

The federal government has negotiated a short reprieve in the ongoing dispute with India over its reluctance to receive pulse imports that have not been fumigated with methyl bromide after March 31.

In a statement issued Thursday, Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade announced pulse exports can continue as usual — for now.

“This new exemption means that Canadian pulse exports leaving Canada on or before June 30, 2017, will not require fumigation in Canada. We will maintain on-going trade while officials on both sides continue to work towards a long-term, science-based solution,” the statement said.

Federal officials and industry representatives have been working since last autumn to convince India to continue exempting Canada from its import regulations as it has done since 2004. Those exemptions have meant that the Canadian pulses can be fumigated upon their arrival in India, rather than before they are shipped.

India wants to avoid importing a nematode that would be a threat to its onion and garlic production. No Canadian shipments have tested positive for the pest to date.

In 2016, pulse exports to India were worth over $1.1 billion and accounted for 27.5 per cent of Canada’s global pulse exports.

Methyl bromide is being phased out of use in Canada because it depletes the ozone layer. However, it’s not very effective in cold climates anyway. Offloading pulses at an interim port for fumigation would be prohibitively expensive.

Industry officials say they continue working with the Indian government to find an acceptable compromise.

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