BEIJING – On Feb. 8, China and Canada signed agreements to increase modest levels of bilateral trade. One of the agreements would allow the resumption of Canadian beef and tallow exports following a nine-year pause, Reuters reported. Beijing banned Canadian beef imports in 2003 following Canada’s discovery of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy that year.

Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed the agreements in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. A large Canadian delegation arrived in China on Feb. 7.

In 2010, China committed to resume imports of Canadian beef and tallow, but imports remained at a standstill due to Beijing's restrictions on beef containing the growth enhancer ractopamine.

A legal review of the agreement must first be completed by both countries and then be signed and ratified before going into effect. Amounting to less than C$60 billion ($59.4 billion) in 2010, the relatively small amount of bilateral trade between the nations indicates there is a lot of potential for further growth.