Former Canadian deputy PM eyes China free-trade deal
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.