Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Meet President Xi Jinping Today to Discuss a Possible Trade Deal

With President Donald Trump’s threat in August to pull out the U.S from NAFTA, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is out to strengthen Canada’s trade ties with China. China ranks third after the United States of America and the European Union regarding the volume of goods transacted with Canada. Mr. Trudeau left on Sunday for China and is currently on tour in the Asian country. Mr. Trudeau’s meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday is expected to revolve around trade between the two countries and how to revamp it in light of Mr. Trump’s threat. Canada, Mexico, and the U.S are Members of NAFTA.
However, experts are concerned with some issues that are likely to be a stumbling block to Mr. Trudeau’s agenda. Trudeau has vowed to establish trade ties based on a couple of principles such as environmental ethics, respect for human rights, gender equality, etc. But is President Jinping ready to discuss non-economic dynamics with his Canadian counterpart? Charles Burton, a professor at Brock University, believes that Mr. Jinping, and by extension China, is keen on addressing economic issues and not non-economic concerns. With some Canadian wine merchants currently detained in China, a discussion about human rights is likely to be uncomfortable for the two leaders, Burton added. The wine merchants are alleged to have violated Chinese customs regulations.
Apart from the underlying issues between the two governments, Canadian companies are suspicious of their Chinese enterprises. The fact that many Chinese companies are state-owned elevates the suspicion, according to Alex Capri. Capri is a senior fellow at NUS Business School. With many issues that are likely to delay the formation of a free trade agreement, experts have warned that Canada may be many years away from striking a deal with China. The trade talks between Canada and Australia that took over ten years before the materialization of a trade agreement is case in point.
The United States being the most significant trading partner of Canada is hard to ignore in the scenario that Mr. Trudeau secures a trade deal for his country. The U.S will be agitated if it has reasons to believe that Canada will facilitate the importation of cheap Chinese merchandise to the U.S. Meanwhile, China is out to take over the role previously played by the U.S: championing free trade. Under Mr. Trump’s administration, the U.S is increasingly becoming protectionist. But questions have arisen questioning Canada’s economic muscle.

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