Canada’s agriculture minister says that department officials have told her the Chinese government has suspended the export permits of two Canadian pork exporters, both based in Quebec.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said that she has not yet received an official notice from China of the permit suspensions and would not identify the companies involved.

“We have to look into this,” she said by phone from Ottawa. “It might be only administrative. We might be able to deal with the situation easily. I can’t speculate on why the permits have been suspended.”

A spokesperson with the Canadian Pork Council also said it was aware of the suspensions, and that the council was seeking clarification on the issue in order to correct it. 

“We are aware that China has suspended two plants. They are temporarily unable to ship pork into China. This appears to be linked to a paperwork issue,” said Gary Stordy.

A spokesperson in Bibeau’s office told CBC News that the General Administration of Customs China posted information on its website stating that China has temporarily suspended the licences of two Canadian pork producers that export to China. 

The Canadian government has not received official confirmation from Customs China, nor has the federal government been given a reason for the action. 

However, the spokesperson also said that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) was working with industry earlier this week to sort out language and format issues on some export certificates used to export meat to China.

The discrepancy would only cause minor delays for shipments that have already arrived in China. 

Ties between Canada and China turned icy last December when police in Vancouver arrested Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant. Since then, China has arrested two Canadians and halted canola imports from two Canadian companies.

Bibeau said she did not know when the pork permit suspensions took effect.

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