No free trade deal during Trudeau’s China trip

No free trade deal during Trudeau’s China trip
# 04 December 2017 02:18 (UTC +04:00)

What was supposed to be a furthering of free trade talks did not materialize Monday on the first day of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s four-day visit to China, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

Trudeau met privately with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and longer than expected at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Pundits were predicting a joint statement after the meeting on how free trade talks went -- the two countries representatives met four times previously to discuss a trade deal -- but the leaders did not deliver the goods.

A news conference was canceled on short notice by the Chinese, officials at Trudeau’s office told Canadian media.

The Canadian prime minister, however, mentioned the subject during a ceremony where he and Li read from statements.

“I’m pleased we will continue exploratory discussions towards a comprehensive trade agreement between Canada and China,” Trudeau said. “Both sides share the view that due to different national circumstances, it’s only natural that we don’t see eye-to-eye on some issues.”

Those differences revolve around strict human rights and environmental and labor protection, key issues Trudeau insisted be part of any free trade agreement.

The failure to include those issues in the Trans Pacific Partnership is the main reason Trudeau did not sign onto that 11-country deal during a summit in November.

But Li did not close the door on a deal with Canada.

“China is open to bilateral talks for a free trade agreement,” he said, adding that China is ready to form a working group to tackle, along with a similar Canadian group, the sticking points.

The two leaders lauded the creation of a so-called 2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism to be celebrated in each country.

“The Canada-China Year of Tourism is an exceptional opportunity to strengthen the people-to-people connections between the two countries and celebrate the best that Canada and China offer the world,” Trudeau said.