Trudeau win could help on a trade pact

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@chi­nadai­

Justin Trudeau’s elec­tion as Canada’s new prime min­is­ter prob­a­bly im­proved prospects for a free trade agree­ment with China, ob­servers said.

Trudeau, 43, the old­est son of the late Prime Min­is­ter Pierre El­liott Trudeau who led Canada for more than a decade, will be­come the sec­ond-youngest prime min­is­ter in Cana­dian his­tory fol­low­ing Mon­day’s elec­tion, which also saw his Lib­eral Party win a ma­jor­ity of seats in Par­lia­ment.

“I am con­fi­dent that a Trudeau gov­ern­ment will look very closely at China’s pro­posal to es­tab­lish a free trade agree­ment (FTA) with Canada and that this will likely be re­al­ized be­fore the next elec­tion four years from now,” Charles Bur­ton, a former Cana­dian diplo­mat in China who is a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Brock Univer­sity in St. Catharines, On­tario, wrote in an e-mail.

Gre­gory Chin, pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal econ­omy at York Univer­sity in Toronto, said the door is open wider for an FTA than un­der pre­vi­ous Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper of the Con­ser­va­tive Party.

“I think the chances are bet­ter for an agree­ment,” Chin said. “How­ever, it will be very chal­leng­ing for Canada to en­act a free trade agree­ment with China. There are op­por­tu­ni­ties and also risks that have to be ad­dressed. China is much big­ger than Canada.”

“I think there may be a will­ing­ness on the part of the new gov­ern­ment to re­view an FTA,” said Gor­don Houlden, di­rec­tor of the China In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of Al­berta in Ed­mon­ton. “I also think Canada may take an­other look at the AIIB (China-led Asian In­fras­truc­ture In­vest­ment Bank) af­ter pass­ing on it the first time around.”

Chin said that the China

I think the chances are bet­ter for an agree­ment (FTA).”

re­la­tion­ship with Canada un­der Harper started off cold and ended up “slightly warmer.” “We will see a shift in tone as the new gov­ern­ment re­thinks ev­ery di­men­sion of the re­la­tion­ship. Canada will rec­og­nize that it is now deal­ing with a China that is chang­ing eco­nom­i­cally and in turn is chang­ing the global econ­omy as well,” Chin said.

“While it is un­likely that the new Trudeau gov­ern­ment will have a dif­fer­ent pol­icy on Canada – China im­mi­gra­tion, Trudeau has been very clear that it will be a pri­or­ity for his gov­ern­ment to en­cour­age much higher lev­els of Chi­nese trade and Chi­nese in­vest­ment in Canada,” Bur­ton said. “I ex­pect that he will di­rect the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment to proac­tively re­spond to the sug­ges­tions of the Chi­nese author­i­ties on how to make Canada a much more at­trac­tive in­vest­ment venue for Chi­nese state en­ter­prises.”

Houlden expects the new gov­ern­ment to ini­ti­ate changes in ties with China. “I be­lieve the new gov­ern­ment will def­i­nitely have a more pos­i­tive out­look on China than the pre­vi­ous one,” he said.

In 1968, the gov­ern­ment of then Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau be­gan ne­go­ti­a­tions with China that led to the es­tab­lish­ment of diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween the coun­tries. In 1973, Trudeau be­came the first Cana­dian prime min­is­ter to pay an of­fi­cial visit to China.

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