Li, Trudeau get ball rolling on free-trade deal
China and Canada have agreed to launch exploratory talks on a free-trade agreement, Premier Li Keqiang and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Thursday.
They made the announcement at a joint press conference on Thursday morning after a tete-a-tete followed by a longer talk.
“We have reached new consensus in the field of economy and trade,” Li said on the second day of his visit to Canada. “We’ve talked about how to establish a free-trade area between China and Canada.”
The two countries also announced an agreement aimed at ending a dispute over exports of Canadian canola oil to China.
Trudeau said they found a “predictable, science-based and stable solution to ensure access to the Chinese market” for Canadian canola exports through early 2020.
“This is great news for our Canadian canola farmers,” said Trudeau, adding that the progress “goes to show how two countries willing to collaborate can solve difficult challenges together”.
China also agreed to import bone-in beef from Canada. The measures demonstrated China’s commitment to farmers and producers in Canada, Li said at the press conference.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association immediately lauded the action, saying it will boost exports to China by $10 million a year.
The two leaders meeting twice within a month shows that China-Canada relations have
This new trade target will benefit Canadian workers and business owners while creating good, well-paying jobs.” Justin Trudeau, Canadian prime minister
ushered in a new phase, Li said.
With the visits, the two sides formally inaugurated an annual dialogue mechanism between the heads of government, Li said.
The two men presided over a signing ceremony prior to the joint press conference, where 14 cooperative documents were inked on the economy, trade, agriculture, customs, education, tourism and crime-fighting.
“We’re pleased to have witnessed commercial signings today that will help achieve this goal. We know there’s a huge amount of untapped potential in our commercial relationship — this new trade target will benefit Canadian workers and business owners while creating good, well-paying jobs,” Trudeau said.
He also said that though there is much anxiety around globalization and trade, the Canadian and Chinese governments are “directly focused on creating trade opportunities that benefit Canadians and benefit the middle class and the communities they work in”.
The two countries also agreed to double two-way tourism visits by 2025. Trudeau said that the two countries agreed to launch a Canada-China economic and financial strategic dialogue that “as a forum will seek to guide the economic relationship between our two countries now and into the future”.
Li’s visit marked the first Chinese premier’s visit to Canada in 13 years.
He was welcomed by Trudeau with military honors on Thursday at the Drill Hall at Cartier Square in Ottawa, a military training facility in the Canadian capital.
He then went to Parliament Hill, where he was welcomed by George Furey, speaker of the Senate, and Geoff Regan, speaker of the House of Commons.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (left) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take part in a joint press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, on Thursday.