China suspends export permits from two Canadian pork plants, says Ottawa

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TORONTO — China has suspended the export permits of two Canadian pork exporters, including Quebec-based Olymel LP, amid growing tensions between the two countries.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said administrative issues related to routine customs inspections arise periodically.

She said the current suspension is limited to two processing facilities with all other approved Canadian pork processing facilities remaining eligible to export to China.

“CFIA [the Canadian Food Inspection Agency] is looking into the situation and we are working with the Chinese importers and Chinese authorities to lift the suspension as soon as possible,” she said in an email.

The department was formally notified Wednesday of the suspension after Customs China posted the information on its website the prior evening.

The suspension comes amid strained relations between the two countries following last December’s arrest in Vancouver of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant. China has since arrested two Canadians and halted canola imports from two Canadian companies.

Ottawa has been unable to follow up on the notification because China is in the middle of a holiday this week, said a minister’s spokeswoman. The other pork producer has yet to be identified.

Kate Hawkins said administrative issues often surface, sometimes over paperwork that is missing some Chinese characters.

“Sometimes it’s really just simple and we address it and it can take a few weeks and the problem is resolved.”

Canadian pork producer Olymel said its plant in Red Deer, Alta., is one of two affected by the suspension.

“We are assessing the situation with the authorities,” said spokesman Richard Vigneault, adding there is no impact on production at the plant.

“Operations are still going on and there will be no change.”

The Canadian Press