China Customs confirm suspension of Canadian canola imports

China's customs authorities confirmed Thursday that clearance for imports of canola from Canada's biggest producer has been suspended, because of contamination.

The permit for imports from Richardson International has been canceled, China Customs confirmed in a statement on its website.

Customs also said that quarantine inspections of rapeseed oil from Canada will be stepped up, after fungus and bacteria were found to have contaminated produce examined in four different cities.

China Customs said in its statement that it had suspended the imports to protect domestic agriculture production and ensure ecological safety.

Richardson International claims its produce meets international standards, and told the Financial Post that it was first notified on March 1 by the Canadian government that its “status as an authorized Canadian exporter was being revoked by China.”

According to the Financial Times, the company said an internal review of its products found "no basis for the complaints."

The Financial Post reports that since January, Canadian authorities have received “nine notifications of non-compliance” regarding canola exports to China.

On Wednesday, Lu Kang, spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, told reporters that China has proper grounds to suspend the import of canola from Canada because of quarantine problems.

According to Xinhua, Lu said that the suspension was “completely reasonable and legal,” based on relevant laws and international practice.

China is Canada's biggest market for canola seed exports. /VCG Photo

China is Canada's biggest market for canola seed exports. /VCG Photo

China Daily reports that Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Tuesday she was “very concerned” by the suspension.

Canada represents around three-quarters of global canola production, with 2.7 billion Canadian dollars' worth (two billion U.S. dollars) of canola seeds exported to China as of 2017.

A further one billion Canadian dollars' worth of canola in the form of oil and meal were exported to China that year.

Canola is an important component in cooking oil, animal feed and certain kinds of fuel.