OTTAWA, May 20 ― China has lifted a ban on Canadian canola imports, a Canadian official said yesterday, calling it “very good news” for producers that Ottawa argued had been caught up in a diplomatic row.

“We got the news yesterday from the Chinese authorities that our Canadian canola can go to China,” Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said.

“We had two big companies who were suspended for a while, so it's very good news for our producers,” she told reporters in Ottawa.

Beijing had imposed the ban on Viterra Inc and Richardson International in March 2019 as tensions flared between Ottawa and Beijing, saying harmful organisms had been detected in their canola shipments.

Worth tens of billions of dollars, the oil seed crop is used to make cooking oil, animal feed and biodiesel fuel.

Vexed Canadian officials at the time decried the ban, saying there were “no scientific reasons for this action,” and took their concerns to the WTO.

Relations between Ottawa and Beijing had been thrown into crisis by the arrest three months earlier in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou ― the chief financial officer of telecoms giant Huawei ― at the request of the United States.

Following Meng's arrest, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor in what observers saw as retaliation. Beijing also targeted Canadian agricultural exports, including canola and pork.

All three were released in September 2021 after Meng reached a deal with US prosecutors on the fraud charges, ending her extradition fight. ― AFP