Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trade mission to China Monday did not result in an expected free trade agreement, contrary to expectations in Ottawa.
Trudeau met with Chinese Premier Li Kiqiang, but the talks did not end with the start of a free trade agreement Trudeau sought as a hedge against uncertainties in renegotiations with the United States of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Li noted that meetings between Chinese and Canadian officials were rare compared to Beijing’s dealings with other countries.
“It shows that China-Canada relations have indeed entered a golden era. And of course it also shows that the prime minister has attached high importance to Canada’s relations with China,” he said.
An attempt to spur trade between the countries could be a risky strategy for Trudeau. It has the potential to alienate countries like Japan, Canada’s longtime trading partner — and could open strategic Canadian industries to Chinese ownership, while continuing a trade relationship long favorable to Beijing.
About 4 percent of Canadian exports went to China in 2016. Over 75 percent went to the United States.
Despite the lack of a free trade agreement, Li and Trudeau announced agreements on climate change and clean energy, a food importation pact and an education exchange.
The year 2018 was also designated as Canada-China Year of Tourism, with Trudeau saying he expects to see more Chinese tourists at Niagara Falls and other Canadian attractions.
By Ed Adamczyk