Trudeau aims at China trade

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHINA DAILY

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau has an­nounced plans to make a big push for in­bound in­vest­ment to Canada by lead­ing trade mis­sions to China and In­dia, prob­a­bly in March.

The Globe and Mail re­ports that it is all part of a care­fully laid out strat­egy with the long term goal of fol­low­ing Aus­tralia’s lead and land­ing a free-trade agree­ment with China.

For­mer Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Kevin Rudd is re­port­edly part of the dis­cus­sions.

“We are look­ing very closely at how Aus­tralia built their re­la­tion­ship, and we’re talk­ing to lead­ing fig­ures from that pe­riod about how we can do some­thing ap­pro­pri­ate like that in Canada,” said a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, who was not au­tho­rized to speak on the record.

Un­der Aus­tralia’s pact with China, more than 85 per­cent of Aus­tralian goods will en­ter China duty-free.

The odds of reach­ing a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment are seen to be in Canada’s fa­vor, for one rea­son, be­cause the Trudeau name is held in such high es­teem in China. Justin Trudeau’s fa­ther and for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Pierre-El­liott Trudeau vis­ited China three times.

“We have a unique op­por­tu­nity, given the high re­gard in which the Prime Min­is­ter’s fa­ther is held in China,” the of­fi­cial said. “It isn’t hy­per­bole. They still look at Pierre Trudeau as the first Western leader to open his arms to China, which, in a so­ci­ety that treats history the way it does, is as if it hap­pened yes­ter­day.”

High-level Cana­dian of­fi­cials have al­ready ini­ti­ated talks with busi­ness lead­ers who have ties with China, the Globe and Mail re­ports.

The de­tails of the mis­sion are still be­ing worked out but sources say they could in­clude provin­cial pre­miers and cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives.

Canada’s pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion had a strained re­la­tion­ship with China over ac­cu­sa­tions of Chi­nese spy­ing in Canada and China’s treat­ment of Ti­betans.

De­mand in China for Cana­dian nat­u­ral re­sources has slowed with the na­tion’s econ­omy and the China In­vest­ment Corp, which han­dles $747 bil­lion, also re­cently closed its Toronto head­quar­ters.

How­ever, of­fi­cial said the fo­cus of the trade mis­sion would be on China’s and In­dia’s rapidly ris­ing mid­dle class and fast-paced ur­ban­iza­tion.

“No­body is build­ing cities as rapidly as China,” the of­fi­cial said. “So there are big op­por­tu­ni­ties for our pen­sion funds, for our fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, for our large in­fra­struc­ture com­pa­nies and for green tech­nol­ogy.”

David Mul­roney, a for­mer Cana­dian am­bas­sador to Beijing, told the Globe and Mail that there are enor­mous pos­si­bil­i­ties to cap­i­tal­ize on China’s grow­ing mid­dle- and up­per- in­come earn­ers who are trav­el­ling more, send­ing their chil­dren over­seas for ed­u­ca­tion and buy­ing real es­tate abroad.

The Chi­nese also have high re­gard for Canada’s food safety, making it pos­si­ble for Cana­dian firms to mar­ket fruit juices, wines and lob­ster, while also pro­mot­ing health­care ser­vices tar­get­ing the el­derly, he said.

“The chal­lenge is not just to show up and say we are friends and let’s get back to busi­ness,” Mul­roney said. “You need to in­sti­tu­tion­al­ize the re­la­tion­ship with reg­u­lar vis­its and ex­changes.”

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