A Ship and Its Crew Gets Caught in US-China Trade Battle

baltic dry index
Photo: Shutterstock/Volodymyr Kyrylyuk

By Bloomberg News (Bloomberg) — Some of the people most eager to see a resolution in the U.S.-China trade conflict may be the crew of a ship circling in the East China Sea.

The Amazon, laden with Canadian canola, has been travelling back and forth in the waters around Xiamen port for four weeks after leaving Vancouver on May 7, according to Bloomberg shipping data and a person familiar with the situation. Chinese authorities have been repeatedly carrying out quality inspections on the cargo, the person said.

Canada has become embroiled in the trade spat after the country arrested Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. authorities last year. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he believes canola is being used as a pawn in the trade war after China revoked the import licenses of two canola exporters, detained two Canadians, and held soybean shipments at ports for inspections.

“The vessel could be the last canola cargo from Canada,” said Lu Yun, an analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. “We expect there won’t be any shipments in July.”

In a further development, China this week banned pork imports from the North American nation after an investigation into traces of a prohibited feed additive led to the discovery of counterfeit health certificates.

Nobody replied to a fax sent to Chinese customs inquiring about the canola shipment.

Trade Turmoil

China’s imports of Canadian canola, used to make cooking oil for popular spicy Shichuan food, slumped almost 70% in May from a year earlier as companies cut purchases from the country’s largest supplier.

Any thaw in relations between the U.S. and Canada could potentially take some of the pressure off around Huawei.

As part of efforts to resolve the trade spat, Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are due to meet Saturday at the Group of 20 summit in Japan. Ahead of this meeting, China has also put American soybean purchases on hold while also asking U.S. exporters to delay shipping soy cargoes it had agreed to purchase earlier this year.

–With assistance from Alfred Cang and Alex Millson.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P