Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Saudi Arabia Cuts Trade Ties With Canada Following Diplomatic Row

Saudi Arabia Cuts Trade Ties With Canada Following Diplomatic Row

Saudi Arabia had ordered the expulsion of the Canadian envoy, as well as the halt to all new trade and investment deals between the two nations, after Canada said it was "gravely concerned" about recent arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia.

The political activist Samar Badawi was presented with an International Women of Courage Award by Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama in 2012.

The first Canadian source said Ottawa shared the view of foreign policy experts who believe the Saudi reaction reflected internal strains inside the kingdom, where 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to push through domestic reforms. In little more than a year, the kingdom has led a four-country coalition that severed ties with neighbouring Qatar, recalled its ambassador to Germany and cut back its trade dealings with some German companies amid a diplomatic row. Canada's ambassador, Dennis Horak, is not in Riyadh.

European traders said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia's main wheat-buying agency has told grains exporters it will no longer accept Canadian-origin wheat and barley.

Besides having immediate effects on global relations and students on exchange between the two countries, the Canada-Saudi tension could mean some serious economic problems for Canada. "Saudi Arabia is a strong country and doesn't need Canada, Germany or even America", he told DW.

The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs responded by expressing concern over Saudi Arabia's actions, but resolving to stand their ground. "Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi".

Badawi's wife and children fled Saudi Arabia and now live in Sherbrooke.

In a tweet from Saudi Airlines, the suspension will come into effect on August 13.

Saudi state television later reported that the Education Ministry was coming up with an "urgent plan" to move thousands of Saudi scholarship students out of Canadian schools to take classes in other countries.

Saudi Arabia's main state wheat buying agency, the Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO), has told grains exporters it will no longer accept Canadian-origin grains in its global purchase tenders, European traders said.

The ministry recalled its ambassador to Canada for consultations and declared the Canadian ambassador persona non grata, giving him 24 hours to leave. But the task of approving the export permits fell to the Liberals, who were lobbied by human rights activists to say no. "It's up for the government of Saudi Arabia and the Canadians to work this out", she said on Tuesday.

Despite the diplomatic blowback, Freeland has stayed firm on her criticism of the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has supported rebels in Syria who are losing a war against President Bashar Assad and its military become bogged down by the bloody and costly war it is waging in neighboring Yemen. Much of that was tanks, armored personnel carriers and motor vehicles.

"I think they're being sensitive for a very important reason".

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