Canada to ex­plore China trade av­enues

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By NA LI in Toronto re­nali@chi­nadai­

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.

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