BEIJING, CHINA — Historic agricultural partnerships between Canada and China have been made in recent months, announced Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz late last week. Canadian pulse producers led the way with initiatives that will increase the value of Canadian pulse exports to China to an estimated total of C$500 million ($491 million).

Minister Ritz made the announcement following an agricultural trade mission to Beijing and Inner Mongolia where he and Canadian farm leaders worked together to strengthen export opportunities for Canadian pulses, canola, beef, grain and hogs.

In December when Prime Minister Stephen Harper led a trade mission to China, China agreed to lift its ban on Canadian pork that had been implemented in the wake of H1N1. Minister Ritz continued that momentum by finalizing an agreement to re-open the Chinese market to Canadian exports of purebred swine genetics.

The Canadian Swine Exporters Association expects total Canadian sales of purebred swine genetics to China to be worth C$30 million ($29.5 million) this year.

"There are still challenges in the Canadian pork industry, but lifting this last restriction on swine exports to China will be a real profit boost for our producers," said Minister Ritz.

Minister Ritz also pressed his Chinese counterparts to recognize international scientific consensus stating that Canadian beef is safe. China is one of few countries that remains completely closed to Canadian beef since the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (B.S.E.) in 2003. Both countries committed to continued expert discussions to resolve the issue as soon as possible.