'A huge loss to our producers': Restrictions on pulse exports to India driving prices down
'India’s made concessions to other countries on this matter, but not Canada,' says Sask. agriculture minister
The Government of Canada is accusing India of "applying discriminatory treatment to Canada" because India has not extended its waiver allowing Canadian pulse exports into the country without a required pest treatment.
This move has a major impact on Saskatchewan pulse producers, as Saskatchewan is Canada's leader in pulse crop production.
Canadian export of pulses to India was worth over $1.1 billion in 2016, with almost all of that coming from Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan's minister of agriculture said this has driven the price of lentils down by nearly half of where it was in the summer.
"That's a huge loss for our producers," said Lyle Stewart.
"The pest they want us to fumigate for doesn't exist in Canada, and the chemical that you have to use to kill them is illegal in Canada. That's our problem."
Stewart said Canadian officials, including him, have been on the ground trying to resolve this issue.
"India's made concessions to other countries on this matter, but not Canada," said Stewart.
"Nobody's making any progress, but it's not for lack of trying."
The election cycle in India may be having an impact on trade issues, and Stewart hopes there will be more trade activity in the new year.
"Being discriminated against like this by India in trade policy is uncharted [territory] for sure," said Stewart.
"We've had a good relationship with them, we've paid lots of attention to that market, and we have been their preferred supplier for lentils up until now."
Other trade partners have received an extension from India on the waiver until Dec. 31. The most recent extension expired on Sept. 30, and this is the first time Canada has not been granted the extension since 2004.
India also announced a 50 per cent tariff on dry pea imports from all countries on Nov. 8, without advance notice.
"Something's changed, and nobody can get a really solid handle on what's driving this," said Stewart.
A statement from the federal government said Canada is a safe and reliable global supplier of pulses, and the government stands ready to work with India to find a viable solution to help ensure the country's long-term food security.
With files from Stephanie Taylor