The tensions between the US and China have caused collateral victims, with Canada being one of them. By siding with the US, Canada has drawn the wrath of Beijing, and trade relations between Canada and China have suffered as a result.
An Increase in Administrative Formalities
China is maintaining non-tariff barriers against Canada, requiring new labels on the majority of Canadian food products sold in China, including seafood. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the list of information that must be included on each product is quite lengthy, from the fishing boat to the cold room where the fish was stored, product name, scientific name, fishing region, contact information for each company involved, and more. Companies in Canada have been required to comply since January 1st. These may appear to be minor details, but they help to reduce red tape for Canadian exporters.
“China always tries to give itself a shred of legitimacy by promulgating rules but interpreting them as it wishes. This is what it has done in the past with Quebec pork and canola,” stated Guy Saint Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to Beijing.
Genesis of a Diplomatic Conflict with Commercial Repercussions
Let’s go back to 2018 to understand the origin of this tension between China and Canada. In December, the US Justice Department charged Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese telecom giant Huawei's number two, with lying to an executive of the HSBC bank during a meeting in Hong Kong in 2013 about the links between the Chinese group and a subsidiary called Skycom, which sold equipment to Iran. She was apprehended by Canadian authorities at the request of the US. During this time, ex-Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were both arrested in China on suspicion of spying. This was the start of a historic diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing. Their detention was seen by Canada as a retaliatory measure after the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of the US.
However, despite the release of the two Canadian prisoners and Meng Wanzhou's return to China, the situation still appears to be tense.
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