Canadian livestock genetics exporters are waiting to see whether China’s delays in renewing export licences are another casualty of political conflict between the two countries.
China has yet to renew export licences for Alta Genetics and Semex, which expired in late 2018. The Canadian genetics exporters deal in dairy and beef genetics. Both companies have been exporting to China for years, iPolitics reported last week. Michael Latimer, executive director of the Canadian Beef Breeds Council, said that as far as he knows, there hasn’t been a reason given for the delays in renewing export permits for Alta Genetics and Semex. Agriculture Minister Bibeau’s office has said the export licence issue is administrative and related to routine audit visits, iPolitics reported.
However, Canadian producers are caught in a trade trap between the two countries. China revoked export permits from Richardson International and Viterra in March, and imports of Canadian canola seed ceased in China. Last week, several media outlets reported that China withdrew export permits for two Canadian pork plants, citing paperwork problems for the withdrawal. The pork permit cancellation came despite the damage done to China’s pork supply by African swine fever.
Latimer first became aware of the export permit delays about a month ago, during the council’s annual general meeting. He didn’t yet know whether the delays were connected to political tension between Canada and China, or part of the regular course of business. Delays do happen from time to time, he said.
“It depends on what inspectors they have available, timing, time of year…lots of other stuff like that.”
Whether there are other cattle genetics companies affected is also an unknown right now.
“It’s a little different than when we’re dealing on a bigger scale, where we’re getting health export certificates negotiated,” Latimer said. “That’s done through CFIA, and that’s more of a public realm. But this is a private business dealing. So if there are other companies, we encourage them to come forward.”
The latest permit delays affect both beef and dairy genetics. For example, Semex was supposed to send about 600,000 doses of Simmental semen, iPolitics reported last week, but that order will no longer be filled by Canada. Latimer said the delays have the potential to affect other breeds as well.
So far, Latimer hasn’t heard of a timeline, but he said he was hopeful the issue would be resolved as soon as possible. Every country has its own breeding season, with a window when they need product to enter the country, he said.
“We don’t want their farmers to be out product either, where they can’t improve their herds using our genetics,” he said.
The council plans to continue working through the diplomatic process, Latimer said, and ensuring the Canadian government is aware of ongoing developments. He added that he encourages the government to try to “resolve the whole matter” as well as they can, and as quickly as they can.
Latimer acknowledged that wasn’t an easy task.
“International relations are tricky at the best of times.”