Canadians 'increasingly supportive of free trade agreement with China'

Legislation | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Canada is considering the potential barriers to forming a free trade agreement with China as public support for such a move gradually increases.

Canada is continuing its considerations of a free trade agreement with China, though formal negotiations are yet to commence.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau has been meeting with China's top leaders during an eight-day trip, with a senior Canadian official confirming to CTV news that technical discussions related to free trade with China have been held and will continue, but no negotiations have taken place as yet.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang has stated that the two countries will soon launch a feasibility study on an eventual free trade deal, though Canadian ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques highlighted the fact that a number of factors need to be addressed before any concrete progress can be made.

He said: "The prime minister said that the approach that Canada takes when it comes to a free trade agreement is that it must include a number of important items - he mentioned two political and two economic issues … and as you know, those areas are problematic. I would say that a lot more work needs to be done on those areas."

The issues that Mr Saint-Jacques was referring to include Mr Trudeau's belief that any modern free trade deal must include chapters on labor and the environment, while also addressing the impact of state-owned enterprises and procurement.

Nevertheless, the discussions are indicative of growing support for a China-Canada trade pact. A recent online survey of 3,526 adults, conducted by EKOS for the Asia Pacific Foundation, found that an equal number of Canadians - 46 per cent - support a free trade agreement with China as oppose it.

This level of support is ten percentage points higher than the result produced by a similar APF poll carried out in 2014.