New EU import curbs on fruit not Canada-specific

B.C. cherries
File photo of fresh cherries from a roadside fruit stand at Penticton, B.C. (Amy Mitchell/iStock/Getty Images)

Ottawa | Reuters — New European Union rules that could block shipments of Canadian cherries and other fruits to the 28-nation grouping apply to all countries and “was not unusual,” a senior Canadian official said on Friday.

The clarification from federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau came a day after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) warned industry in a notice seen by Reuters that EU imports of the Canadian fruits would end on Sept. 1.

Bibeau’s office said the EU had agreed to work with the Canadian agency and industry “to establish a systems approach to certify fruit and maintain trade.”

“CFIA successfully uses a system approach for trade with other countries, and is well equipped to establish a systems approach for fruit exports with the European Union,” she added.

In a statement, the EU office in Ottawa confirmed the new rules would apply to “all EU trading partners, not just Canada,” adding EU trading partners were alerted to the pending regulations in December 2018.

“It is important to note that we are in close communication with Canadian authorities and are actively looking at ways to avoid any disruption,” the EU delegation said.

Earlier Friday, Canada’s Conservative opposition party called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to raise the matter with his EU counterparts at this weekend’s G7 meeting in France.

In a statement, the party’s agriculture critic Luc Berthold said Trudeau should “push for the immediate removal of these trade barriers.”

CFIA said on Thursday dried and frozen fruit were not affected by the new rules, which also apply to families of fruits that include apples, pears, cranberries, blueberries, peppers and tomatoes. Sea containers shipped with export documents dated before Sept. 1 should not run into issues, the agency added.

In 2018, Canada shipped about $3.1 million of cherries to the EU, the B.C. Cherry Association said on Thursday.

— Reporting for Reuters by Kelsey Johnson; additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa.

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