Canada to explore China trade avenues
There are all kinds of possibilities for Canada to formulate a free trade agreement with China, according to Jim Carr, Canada’s minister of international trade diversification.
The minister, who will be leaving for Beijing on Friday along with Finance Minister Bill Morneau to co-chair the Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue with China, spoke to media on Monday in Toronto, which happened to coincide with the first day of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
“We have a large business delegation in Shanghai. We’re happy to have so many business leaders with political leaders from Canada in China at the same time,” said Carr.
According to Carr, the upcoming dialogue is an important meeting. They want to make sure that every avenue is explored to broaden the relationship between Canada and China.
“We look at deepening right across many sectors and industries where we already do business with China,” said Carr. “I will be looking at the possibility for investment back and forth between our two countries.”
In a policy paper released by Ottawa in October after the USMCA trade treaty concluded, experts suggested that Canada should build a foundation of sectoral agreements, rather than comprehensive free trade to accommodate USMCA, a deal that includes a controversial new clause requiring countries to notify each other if they enter into trade talks with a “non-market” economy.
Carr pointed out that there was already a provision in NAFTA that any one of the three nations could leave the agreement for whatever reason with six-month notice.
“So there is no change there. The only change that we have agreed to — by the way this is applied to all the three nations — if we want to enter a formal conversation with a nonmarket economy, we have to inform the other two three months before entering into such negotiations.”
The minster who joined a roundtable with Chinese-Canadian leaders on Monday, said it is interesting to know that the Chinese-Canadian population is 5 percent of Canada’s total, and Mandarin is the third most popular language after English and French in Canada.
“We have the very important relationship of people to people, family to family. We know that there is mutual interest that we can trade more to create more value and more jobs. We signed trade deals, but why do we do it? Because it creates wealth.”
Carr said it is significant for Canada to launch the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project. Shell along with investors from China and other partners have announced a C$40 billion ($31 billion US) investment in the project. Much of the products will be shipped to Asia to displace coal fire power.
“As a new category export from Canada to Asia, it will create jobs for Canadians and generate wealth, and it will enhance our trade in China,” Carr said.
Carr, who organized a meeting of 13 nations in Ottawa two weeks ago to talk about reforming the World Trade Organization, said it’s important for Canada to lead the conversation.
“The nations believe in free trade. We know there are protectionist forces in the world, Canada is not part of that,” Carr added.
It will be Carr’s third visit to China. He was in Beijing and Tianjin when he was minister of natural resources to look at the possibility of exporting more Canadian lumber to China.