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Canada Probes Fake Export Certificates
6/26 2:19 PM
OTTAWA (Dow Jones) -- Canada's Trade Minister Jim Carr vowed Wednesday to find out the source of fake Canadian export certificates, saying this alleged criminal activity represents another blow to Canadian farmers who have become collateral damage in a deepening row between Beijing and Ottawa.
The emergence of forged export documents forced Canada late Tuesday to heed Beijing's request to halt all China-bound meat shipments, which last year totaled nearly a half-billion U.S. dollars.
"There is somebody out there who is falsifying Canadian export certificates because they think it is in their interest to do it. It's criminal, and we will get to the bottom of it," Mr. Carr told Canada's CTV Television Network. "We want to normalize exports to China as soon as possible."
The possibility of alleged criminal activity in the export of China-bound goods from Canada is the latest development in a deepening economic and diplomatic dispute between the two nations, triggered after Canadian authorities last December detained a senior executive from Huawei Technologies Co. After Meng Wanzhou was arrested, China detained and arrested two Canadian men on national-security grounds, banned the import of Canada canola seed, and ramped up scrutiny of Canadian agriculture imports. China is Canada's second-largest export market for agricultural products.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland have failed to speak with their Chinese counterparts in an effort to resolve the dispute.
The decision to halt all China-bound meat exports came after Chinese officials last week banned pork products from a third Canadian meat processor due to a banned substance discovered in the inspection process. Previous bans on certain pork products were linked to labeling errors. In the most recent case, customs agents in China are said to have found traces of a feed additive, ractopamine, in a shipment of frozen pork from a Quebec-based processor. Ractopamine is banned in China, although allowed for use in some other countries.
An ensuing Canadian probe discovered the use of forged export certificates, which Chinese officials described as "obvious safety loopholes" in Canadian inspections of export-bound meat.
Mr. Carr said officials are now uncertain as to where the frozen pork with ractopamine originated. He added that food-safety inspectors in Canada would never have allowed the pork shipment to head to China had they known about the feed additive. "We will try to get the right answer, " he said.
The investigation involves food-safety and law-enforcement officials, Mr. Carr said. A spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police declined to comment.
Representatives for the Chinese embassy in Ottawa didn't immediately respond to requests for comment, including what would be required before Canadian meat can re-enter China.
The Canadian Meat Council, which represents meatpackers and processors, said it was worried about the financial loss the industry faces from this China setback, but would try to secure new markets in the meantime. Last year, Canadians shipped over 500 million Canadian dollars ($379 million) of pork to China, and nearly C$100 million in beef.
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