Minister MacAulay provides trade mission update from Europe
By Diego Flammini
Canada continues to discuss possible resolutions to a durum wheat issue with Italian importers, Minister MacAulay says.
During an Oct. 8 to 11 trade mission to Europe, MacAulay “met with the Italian grain industry (and) raised Canada’s serious concerns about market conditions in Italy which are hurting our durum wheat” exports, he told reporters today on a conference call from Rome.
Italy used country-of-origin labelling (COOL) and other actions to present Canadian durum as a dangerous product laced with glyphosate since July 2017. Italy also bans the application of glyphosate on pre-harvest wheat.
Since Italy implemented its COOL actions, Canada has exported very little durum wheat directly to the country.
In July 2018, Cereals Canada and Grain Growers of Canada urged the federal government to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization to challenge Italy’s practices. But Canada isn’t willing to go that route yet.
Canada will consult directly with Italian industry officials, MacAulay said.
Canadian producers want the durum wheat issue resolved as soon as possible.
The longer Italy curbs Canadian durum wheat imports, the higher the chances of other markets acting in a similar manner, said Margaret Hansen, a durum producer from Moose Jaw, Sask., and the Saskatchewan vice-president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers.
“We produce about 8,000 acres of durum, and none of it from our farm has gone to Italy in about a year,” she told Farms.com. “I’m very concerned about these kinds of actions spilling over into other commodities and that other countries witness what happened in Italy and find reasons to be protectionist.”
The wheat issue aside, Canada’s agriculture minister did provide positive news about trade in Europe.
CETA’s has been in effect for under a year but has already been beneficial for some Canadian ag sectors.
“Since CETA came into force, Canadian agriculture, food and seafood exports have increased to most of the member states in the European Union,” MacAulay said. “Our corn exports to the EU are up by 82 per cent, our blueberry and cranberry exports are up 28 per cent and our maple syrup exports are up by 13 per cent.
“All told, that represents an increase of over $133 million in new sales for farmers in the first 10 months of CETA.”
Since enacting CETA, total Canadian exports to Europe are up by about $1 billion, he added.
Minister MacAulay also reaffirmed the government’s plan to compensate Canada’s supply managed sectors with the upcoming ratification of USMCA.