(Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson via The Globe & Mail)
While no formal announcement has been made, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is fully expected to launch free-trade negotiations with China during his visit to Beijing next week. After more than five years of on and off exploration, it is time to take the plunge, recognizing that negotiations are a beginning and not the end.
China’s economic growth and its geopolitical influence are in the ascendancy and cannot be ignored. The Chinese economy continues to grow at a 7-per-cent clip and will soon eclipse the United States as number one in the world. What is also patently evident is that, by debating among ourselves, Canada has fallen behind countries such as Australia – our natural competitor in the region – leaving us as little more than a bystander observing the most consequential global change in this century.
Some have suggested that a free-trade initiative with China could imperil efforts to renegotiate the North American free-trade agreement. The primary determinant for any trade negotiation should be whether Canadian interests can be safeguarded and advanced. That is a decision for Canada alone. The engagement with China could actually provide leverage for Canada in NAFTA at a time when those talks seem inconclusive. If successful, an accord with China would, in fact, provide preferential market openings for our products and services while reducing our status as a “captive” market obliged to sell our energy resources only to the United States at a sharp discount to world prices. Click here to read more.