Call for Trudeau to pursue long-term trade deal with China
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will look to bolster trade ties with China on his trip to the country this week as a counter to the uncertainty over the future of NAFTA , the head of a Canadian business group says.
"I think it's important that he's going to Beijing because of what we've heard in Washington," said Perrin Beatty, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and a former Canadian cabinet minister. 
He was referring to the the Trump administration's push to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.
Perrin Beatty, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. /VCG Photo

Perrin Beatty, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. /VCG Photo

On Thursday – three days before Trudeau was due to start his trip to China – the US website Politico published comments from Canada's ambassador in Washington David MacNaughton in which he described the Trump administration's approach to NAFTA as "take, take, take" and warned that as a result the negotiations might not "end well."
"If we are wise, we should be looking to diversify our trade," said Beatty, a frequent visitor to China.
In September, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a "business checklist" for trade negotiations with China, and urged the Canadian government "to intensify its economic relationship" with the world's second-largest economy which has a larger middle class than the US.
The report said that Canada should match its "strengths to China's interests" in such areas as energy and climate change, foreign direct investment, services and agri-food.
VCG Photo

VCG Photo

Although China is Canada's second-largest trading partner behind the US, "Canada is not among China's largest customers," according to the Canadian chamber, which highlighted that 12 percent of Canadian imports originate from China, while only four percent of Canadian exports are sent to China.
But Beatty cautioned that it could take years before Canada signs a trade agreement with China, and that time will be necessary to address "difficult issues," including national security, intellectual property protection in China and investments in Canada from Chinese state-owned enterprises.
With 64 percent of Canada's global merchandise trade directed to the US, broadening significant Canadian trade relationships, including one with China, should be a key Canadian priority, Beatty said in an interview with Xinhua.
"The American market is enormously seductive for us," he said. "We speak the same language, have the same system of laws, know each other by having done business together for a long time, and can fly to an American city in the morning and be home for dinner back in Canada.  
"As a consequence, we're missing out on opportunities to get into high-growth economies like China's."
Beatty recommends that Canada pursue a "much greater and longer-lasting" economic partnership with China than "a simple doubling of merchandise trade," which is worth about 90 billion Canadian dollars (70.9 billion US dollars) annually.
"There is a Chinese saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," Beatty said. "We're taking the first step to diversify with Prime Minister Trudeau's visit to China."
Source(s): Xinhua News Agency