For­mer Cana­dian deputy PM eyes China free-trade deal

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG RU in Bei­jing wan­gru@chi­

John Man­ley, for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter of Canada, said a bi­lat­eral free trade agree­ment was the log­i­cal next step for Canada and China.

Man­ley, now the CEO of the Busi­ness Coun­cil of Canada, was re­cently in­vited to join an eco­nomic di­a­logue at the Cana­dian Em­bassy in Bei­jing.

“Lead­ing Cana­dian ex­porters favour an FTA with China,” he said.

Man­ley said Canada re­mains heav­ily de­pen­dent on the US mar­ket and Chi­nese needs align well with Cana­dian sup­plies and ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

“China could ben­e­fit from Canada’s ex­per­tise in clean tech­nol­ogy, nat­u­ral re­sources, trans­porta­tion, in­fra­struc­ture, aerospace, ser­vice and ed­u­ca­tion,” he said.

It is re­ported that Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau hopes to ar­range a visit to China this year, which will likely take place some­time in Septem­ber, around the time of the Group of 20 talks in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

The Canada China Busi­ness Coun­cil es­ti­mates a free-trade pact could boost Cana­dian ex­ports by $7.7 bil­lion by 2030 and cre­ate an ad­di­tional 25,000 Cana­dian jobs.

It also was is re­ported that Bei­jing will launch FTA ne­go­ti­a­tions with Is­rael and ini­ti­ate FTA fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies with Colom­bia, In­dia, Nepal, the Mal­dives and South Pa­cific is­land na­tions in­clud­ing Fiji and Pa­pua New Guinea this year.

Canada has a huge trade im­bal­ance with China. To­tal bi­lat­eral trade was $63 bil­lion in the first nine months of last year, but nearly $49 bil­lion of that came from Chi­nese im­ports.

Canada sup­plies only 1.3 per­cent of Chi­nese im­ports de­spite the fact that Canada can of­fer China much of what it needs, such as food, re­sources, ex­per­tise in in­fra­struc­ture and clean tech­nol­ogy.

“We look for­ward to deep­en­ing our en­gage­ment with China, so as to un­lock new eco­nomic and com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties, and to de­velop new part­ner­ships in an ar­ray of fields,” said Guy Saint-Jac­ques, the Cana­dian am­bas­sador to China.

Man­ley said an FTA would give China duty-free ac­cess to re­sources and agri­cul­ture prod­ucts that are in high de­mand.

In Jan­uary, the prov­ince of Bri­tish Columbia is­sued its first Panda bond in China’s do­mes­tic mar­ket. BC was the first sovereign gov­ern­ment to re­ceive ap­proval from the Peo­ple’s Bank of China to es­tab­lish a Panda bond pro­gram in that coun­try’s on­shore ren­minbi (RMB) mar­ket.

Also in Jan­uary, Canada and China held their 26th an­nual Joint Eco­nomic and Trade Com­mis­sion fo­rum in Van­cou­ver, dur­ing which frank and con­struc­tive di­a­logue on bi­lat­eral trade is­sues took place.

“All these achieve­ments sig­nify the depth and di­ver­sity of the CanadaChina re­la­tion­ship which con­tin­ues to grow in all ar­eas,” said the Cana­dian am­bas­sador.

“We are con­vinced that CanadaChina trade will con­tinue to steadily rise in the years to come and that China will re­main a pri­or­ity mar­ket for Cana­dian trade and in­vest­ment.”

Man­ley was first elected to Par­lia­ment in 1988, and re-elected three times. From 1993 to 2003, he was a min­is­ter in the gov­ern­ment of Jean Chré­tien, serv­ing in the port­fo­lios of in­dus­try, for­eign af­fairs and finance, in ad­di­tion to be­ing Canada’s deputy prime min­is­ter.

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