Canada: Trade pact with China is not on the table

Legislation | 22 January 2019

Canada will not be forging new trade ties with China, a diplomat has said.


A government representative from Canada has thrown cold water on the idea of a potential trade pact with China following a diplomatic dispute between the two nations.

Ambassador John McCallum was speaking to reporters this week and said he is aware that Canadian businesses are keen to press ahead with an improved trade relationship with their counterparts in China.

However, he added that exploratory talks that began back in 2016 are "now dead" and not likely to be revived any time soon.

"We are certainly not negotiating free trade with China either before or after this. So it's not on the table right now," Mr McCallum commented.

Nevertheless, he insisted China will still play a very important part in Canada's future due to the two nations' links in tourism, universities and agriculture.

Canada and China became involved in a diplomatic disagreement last year, when Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on fraud charges for allegedly breaking sanctions on Iran and lying to US banks.

In what many saw as a 'tit-for-tat' reaction, authorities in China then arrested former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor - both Canadian - amid accusations of espionage.

They remain in detention and Mr McCallum said Ottawa is currently more preoccupied with bringing them home than with discussing a new free trade agreement with China.

China and Canada have been tentatively discussing new trade ties since the 1990s and China has been Canada's second-largest trading partner since 2003.

However, it is likely that this disagreement will hamper any new free trade agreements for the foreseeable future.