Canadian MP calls for blueberry deal with China

The Nova Scotia wild blueberry industry is expecting very low prices this season due to low demand, while growing production prices are compounding the impact on producers. Liberal Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey is calling on the prime minister to negotiate a trade agreement with China for Nova Scotia blueberries.

Casey believes getting rid of trade barriers — a combination of import tariffs amounting to almost 50 per cent — with one of the world’s largest markets is the answer.

“China has a growing middle class and this should be a huge export market for Canada’s wild blueberries. If the tariffs were eliminated, we would have better access and our growers could see higher prices,” Casey said.

Casey met with both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland Thursday 25 August to brief them on the issue ahead of their first official visit to China this week, and to make sure blueberries were part of any trade discussions that take place.

Casey noted that Chile was able to negotiate an export agreement with China, and now their farmed highbush blueberries face virtually no tariffs.

Peter Rideout, executive director of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia, said in a press release that East Asian countries like Japan and South Korea are already important markets for the industry, and research indicates that Chinese consumers are a large potential market for their product as well.

Canadians are warming up to the idea of an overall free trade agreement with China, research shows. A poll conducted by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail found 41 per cent of Canadians would support or somewhat support a free trade agreement.

China has voiced the desire for a trade deal with Canada, but the idea has been met with caution from both the government and the public due to China’s human rights record.


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