PM’s takes trade mission to Asia
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.