Vexed Canada takes China to WTO over canola ban

China was the largest market for Canadian canola last year

Canada has requested a meeting with Beijing at the World Trade Organization to try to bring an end to China's ban on its canola, Trade Minister Jim Carr announced Friday.

In a news release, Carr said Canada raised concerns at the WTO General Council in May about the ban that has compounded already strained relations.

Now Canada is seeking formal bilateral consultations at the WTO as direct engagement with China has not lead to a resolution of the trade spat, he said.

China was the largest market for Canadian canola last year, but in March it blocked sales worth billions of dollars of the oil seed crop, which is used to make cooking oil, animal feed and biodiesel fuel, saying harmful organisms had been detected in recent shipments -- which Canada disputes.

"We stand by our robust food inspection system," Carr said on Friday.

Relations between Ottawa and Beijing have been frosty since the December 2018 arrest in Vancouver of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.

In a move seen as retaliation, Chinese authorities detained two Canadians -- a former diplomat and a businessman -- and accused them of espionage.