Beijing – A quick look at some of the key developments from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ongoing visit to China:
– Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Canada and China would soon launch a feasibility study on an eventual free trade deal, although Ottawa’s envoy to Beijing, Guy Saint-Jacques, denied the two sides had agreed to start formal talks. Saint-Jacques said Trudeau cited labour, environmental concerns and the ever-present fears represented by Chinese state-owned enterprises as hurdles the two sides must first get past. “I would say that a lot more work needs to be done on those areas,” Saint-Jacques said. “I would say the prime minister was quite clear on this.”
– Farmers across Canada breathed a sigh of relief as China promised an extension on Thursday’s deadline to introduce rule changes on Canadian canola shipments – a dispute that had threatened to inflict damage on the multibillion-dollar agricultural sector. The Chinese government had threatened to enforce tighter regulations on the amount of foreign material permitted in canola exports from Canada, but the two sides agreed Wednesday to leave the existing standard – 3.5 per cent – in place while they continue to negotiate a long-term deal.
– Canada said it plans to apply to join a controversial new international infrastructure bank led by China in hopes of providing a boost to economic growth both at home and around the world. Trudeau did not say how much money Ottawa would put towards the newly established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which has been set up to provide other countries in the region access to capital for projects like transportation, power and telecommunications. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the bank will make an important impact around the world, and Canada’s economy – and the companies that keep it humming – stand to benefit by taking part.
– During a news conference Wednesday, Trudeau said the two countries would be taking specific steps to improve trade and investment, boost tourism, expand cultural exchanges and address climate change. They have also agreed to establish annual meetings between Li and Trudeau on a range of issues, including national security and the rule of law.
– There was no public discussion by name about the case of Kevin Garratt, a Canadian imprisoned for more than two years in China on espionage charges, although Trudeau said he has “highlighted a number of consular cases” at every opportunity. The Garratt family issued a statement through their lawyer, saying they were “extremely frustrated” by a lack of progress in securing his release and enabling him to obtain medical treatment. “Kevin should be released to allow the two countries to move forward to develop stronger ties and co-operation on many levels,” the statement said.
– Also Wednesday, Canada and China signed a memorandum of understanding on a film co-production treaty; agreed to a program of co-operation from 2017 through 2019 under the Canada-China cultural agreement; and agreed to a statement of co-operation between Parks Canada and China’s National Development and Reform Commission on the establishment, conservation and management of national parks systems.
The Canadian Press