PM’s takes trade mis­sion to Asia

Times Colonist - - Business -

OT­TAWA — Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau is set­ting off on a 10-day voy­age across Eu­rope and Asia to pur­sue his oft-stated goal of find­ing mar­kets for Cana­dian goods and ser­vices be­yond the U.S.

Trudeau trav­els first to France, then on to sum­mits with other world lead­ers in Sin­ga­pore and Pa­pua New Guinea, look­ing to push trade across the Pa­cific.

Ob­servers say Trudeau’s big­gest test will be in the last two stops.

Canada has shown re­peated in­ter­est in trad­ing with Asian na­tions on the Pa­cific Rim over the years, but has failed to make sus­tained progress in a re­gion where trade deals of­ten de­pend on per­sonal re­la­tion­ships. In­ter­na­tional Trade Min­is­ter Jim Carr will join Trudeau there, where he will have face-time with lead­ers from a 10-na­tion bloc known as the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions and then with a larger group of world lead­ers at the an­nual APEC lead­ers’ sum­mit.

“For a do­mes­tic au­di­ence, the prime min­is­ter and other min­is­ters will have to demon­strate that this trip ad­vances the trade di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion agenda in a sig­nif­i­cant way,” said Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, an in­de­pen­dent ap­pointed by Trudeau and an ex­pert on the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion.

“What our coun­ter­parts will want to hear is that Canada is not re­treat­ing into a fortress North Amer­ica with the sign­ing of NAFTA 2.0, that the trade di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion agenda is sin­cere and has teeth and re­sources and de­ter­mi­na­tion be­hind it.”

For­eign-pol­icy ex­perts who keep track of Canada’s trade in­ter­ests in Asia cau­tion that Trudeau is likely to re­turn home with a se­ries of project agree­ments rather than any ma­jor new trade treaties.

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