Pulse firm AGT sees resolution of India-Canada trade snag


Winnipeg | Reuters — Canada’s AGT Food and Ingredients, one of the world’s biggest exporters of peas and lentils, expects India to extend an exemption for Canada within days from a crop fumigation policy that threatened to jeopardize $1.1 billion in annual trade of the food staples, CEO Murad Al-Katib said Tuesday.

India’s current exemption for Canada from its requirement that pulse crops be fumigated in the country of origin with methyl bromide, an insect-killing gas, was due to expire on Friday.

But Al-Katib told Reuters that multiple sources in India have assured him a three- or six-month extension of the exemption for Canada was imminent, although no official announcement has been made.

A delegation from the Canadian government and pulse industry visited India earlier this month, and made a case that Canada’s cold winter weather was enough to eliminate India’s particular pest concerns.

“Minus-40 (C/F) is a very effective way to fumigate,” Al-Katib said. “It’s a very positive signal that the Indian government is recognizing that they need more time to evaluate a science-based approach” to pest control.

Oliver Anderson, a spokesman for Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, said he had nothing new to report on the situation.

An exemption would allow Canada to continue shipping pulse crops to India, where they could be fumigated upon arrival.

Canada is the world’s biggest exporter of pulse crops, a popular protein source in India, the world’s largest importer.

Methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting substance, is not made in Canada, and is allowed for use only in limited situations. Canadian exporters have said that sales to India dried up in the past month due to uncertainty.

AGT shares rose one per cent to $30.40 in early trade in Toronto.

Earlier on Tuesday, New Delhi imposed a 10 per cent import tax on wheat, seeking to curb imports at a time when Indian farmers are starting to harvest crops.

Rod Nickel is a Reuters correspondent covering the agriculture and mining sectors from Winnipeg.

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