Briefing

Canada kicks off World Trade Organization challenge of China’s canola ban

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Trade Minister Jim Carr said the government has asked for bilateral consultations with China under the body’s dispute-settlement mechanism. Beijing stopped Canadian imports of the oilseed in March. (The Logic)

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Talking point: If the consultation process is unsuccessful, Canada can seek a ruling from a WTO panel on the ban and then impose countermeasures if China doesn’t comply. The halt has significantly impacted Canadian canola growers’ sales—shipments to China fell by 1.0 million tonnes over the last year, and stocks of the oilseed rose to 3.9 million tonnes on July 31, a 55 per cent increase over 2018. The WTO process will not resolve that buildup in the near future. The body takes more than two years on average to settle disputes, and the settlement mechanism will stop functioning altogether in December, because the U.S. is refusing to appoint new judges to its appeals bench. Canada is part of a group of 13 countries discussing reforms to the process, partly to change the Trump administration’s stance. Carr has supported a European Union plan for an alternative appeals body to avoid the December halt, but that process has not yet been set up.