GUANGZHOU, China — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau departed China on Thursday without securing the start of free trade talks with the world’s second-largest economy, but said Canadians need to lower their expectations about just how quick that will happen.
Trudeau said differences need to be addressed on how Canada deals with China’s state-owned enterprises. He also said he is committed to standing up for Canadian values in a “respectful way,” including protecting the interests of Canadians behind bars.
“Canadians should be under no illusions that a free trade deal with China will be easy,” Trudeau told reporters before returning to Canada after a four-day visit.
Before agreeing to formally start talks, the government wants China to agree to a broad framework that will incorporate its so-called progressive trade agenda that would place the environment, labour, gender and governance issues formally on the bargaining table.
Trudeau acknowledged that the two countries have a lot of work to do to “interface” their different systems in a way that is “mutually beneficial” — a phrase the Chinese are fond of using. He said the two countries have already had good success in partnering on the environment.
Trudeau suggested that getting China to agree to other parts of his progressive agenda isn’t an insurmountable challenge.
“Trade has been an essential element in their success in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and into the global middle class.”
Canadians should be under no illusions that a free trade deal with China will be easy.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne stayed behind in Beijing to continue discussions over the last two days while Trudeau travelled south to China’s industrial heartland to attend the Fortune Global Forum, a major gathering of international chief executives, which Canada will host next year.
Champagne was due to return to Canada on Thursday with Trudeau with the trade discussions stalled at the exploratory phase.
“There was good progress made and we expect that work to continue in the weeks ahead,” said his spokesman Joe Pickerill.
Trudeau acknowledged that difficult discussions lie ahead in addressing concerns when Chinese state-owned companies try to buy Canadian firms.
The government faced criticism for allowing the takeover of Norsat by Chinese-based Hytera Communications Co. Ltd. without a full national security review. Vancouver-based Norsat makes radio systems and transceivers used by the American military and other NATO partners.
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Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel