Canada-China FTA: Proceed with caution

Canada-China FTA: Proceed with caution

Postby Oscar » Wed Jun 21, 2017 5:07 pm

Free-trade talks with China: Proceed with caution

[ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... le35192536 ]

CHARLES BURTON Special to The Globe and Mail Published Monday, Jun. 05, 2017 5:00 AM EDT Last updated Monday, Jun. 05, 2017 12:00 AM EDT

Charles Burton is an associate professor of political science at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario and is a former Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing

June 2 marked the end of the 90-day period that federal officials allocated for public input into Canada’s potential free-trade negotiations with China. But the so-called “consultation” bore little resemblance to the process that Ottawa uses when it is serious about getting feedback on policy.

People who are called to make presentations to parliamentary committees have their airfare, hotels and meals paid, and a transcript of the hearing is immediately made publicly available.

In this case, officials will simply issue a summary report that likely supports the government in moving from the current “exploratory talks” to binding negotiation of a Canada-China free-trade agreement.

At any rate, Ottawa’s approach to negotiating free trade with China is already known – it’s on the government’s Canada-China free-trade consultations website. For example, in the FAQs, the question that concerns most Canadians (“Will Canada address human rights concerns in China through an FTA?”) gets a boilerplate response: “The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part … in our long-standing relationship with China.” Fair to say we can take that as a “no.” On the contrary, Chinese authorities make it crystal clear that unless Canada commits to ceasing to “interfere in our internal affairs” there will be no lucrative trade deal.

The hard truth is that Beijing doesn’t really need a free-trade agreement with Canada. China already has excellent access to Canadian markets because of our low tariffs, our fair and transparent business regulations and our impartial rule of law to adjudicate contract disputes. Canada, of course, has nowhere near a level playing field in China, where many sectors are closed to Canadian goods, services and investment. Whether a free-trade agreement with China will shrink our current 3:1 trade deficit is very much an open question.

The prospect of strengthening Canada's comprehensive engagement with China, including economic and trade activity, is certainly alluring, especially given the erratic state of our relations with the Trump regime. But don’t expect free-trade talks to enrich our business with China if the process only forces Canada to bow to Beijing-imposed conditions on other important aspects of the economic relationship.

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[ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... le35192536 ]
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Re: Free-trade talks with China: Proceed with caution

Postby Oscar » Wed Jun 21, 2017 5:08 pm

Think tank leads corporate-funded campaign to sway Canadians on Chinese trade

[ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/po ... e35406698/ ]

By ROBERT FIFE and STEVEN CHASE Globe and Mail Update June 21, 2017

Nearly nine in 10 Canadians are 'uncomfortable' with the idea of China gaining more access to Canada's economy

An Ottawa-based think tank, with ties to corporate Canada and the federal government, is spearheading a campaign to persuade Canadians to embrace a free-trade deal with China.

As Canada's negotiators ready for a third round of exploratory trade talks with China, the Public Policy Forum (PPF) is embarking on a two-year effort, bankrolled by major corporations, to change Canadians' minds about bilateral trade with the world's second-biggest economy.

Public-opinion surveys, conducted in April by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail, found nearly nine in 10 Canadians are "uncomfortable" with the idea of China's large, government-controlled businesses gaining more access to Canada's economy – an almost inevitable aspect of any free-trade deal. The poll also found that 66 per cent of respondents want Ottawa to link human rights to trade talks.

The first quarterly meeting of the PPF'S Consultative Forum on China takes place in Ottawa on Wednesday and includes executives doing business with China, leading profree-trade advocates from academia as well as the head of the Canada China Business Council. Ian Shugart, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, will address the gathering.

Two high-ranking federal civil servants sit on the board of the PPF, an organization that advocates policies to promote good governance.

The conference is closed to the media. Edward Greenspon, a former editor-in-chief of The Globe, was in a "flurry of meetings" and unable to comment, according to spokesman Carl Neustaedter.

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[ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/po ... e35406698/ ]
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Re: Free-trade talks with China: Proceed with caution

Postby Oscar » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:33 pm

Third round of Canada-China FTA exploratory talks start in July

[ https://canadians.org/blog/third-round- ... start-july ]

July 5, 2017 - 8:21 am

(PHOTO: The Council of Canadians protested in front of the Prime Minister's Office during the second round of exploratory talks this past April.)

The Trudeau government continues to pursue a Canada-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) despite public concerns.

The Canadian Press reports, "A third round of exploratory trade talks is scheduled to start this month and [China's Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye] hopes formal negotiations will follow at an 'early date', Lu said. However, the spokesman for International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the government is still waiting on the results of its public consultations with Canadians. If the exploratory talks lead the government to conclude that formal negotiations should take place, Ottawa might launch another round of consultations, said spokesman Joseph Pickerill."

The article adds, "The Trudeau government has been proactive in trying to develop closer ties with China and in pursuing a bilateral trade deal. However, a full-fledged trade pact is likely years away. Ottawa has said human rights and labour standards will be part of any trade agreement with China. China, however, doesn't think issues like human rights and democracy belong in an economic deal."

The Trudeau government's limited public consultation on a Canada-China free trade agreement ended on June 2.

On June 5, Charles Burton, a former counsellor at the Canadian embassy in Beijing, wrote, "The so-called 'consultation' bore little resemblance to the process that Ottawa uses when it is serious about getting feedback on policy. People who are called to make presentations to parliamentary committees have their airfare, hotels and meals paid, and a transcript of the hearing is immediately made publicly available. In this case, officials will simply issue a summary report that likely supports the government in moving from the current 'exploratory talks' to binding negotiation of a Canada-China free-trade agreement."

Earlier this year, Burton commented, "Opinion polls indicate most Canadians do not want further political-economic integration with China, but elements of Canada’s business elite, with lucrative connections to Chinese business networks, are lobbying the Prime Minister’s Office hard to push on."

The Council of Canadians opposes a Canada-China FTA and sees it as detrimental to people and the environment in both Canada and China.

Further reading:

Trudeau pursues 'free trade' with China, with implications for pipelines, Indigenous rights & water protection (September 2016)
[ https://canadians.org/blog/trudeau-purs ... protection ]



Brent Patterson's blog
Political Director of the Council of Canadians
[ https://canadians.org/blogs/brent-patterson ]
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