With NAFTA in Limbo, Canada Looks to China for a Potential Free Trade Agreement

With NAFTA in Limbo, Canada Looks to China for a Potential Free Trade Agreement
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, chats with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a welcome ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Dec. 4, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to Beijing and met with his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, to discuss enhanced trade relations. Talks on a potential free trade agreement failed to advance, but they agreed to continue preliminary discussions. In an email interview, Stewart Beck, president and chief executive of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, discusses the nature of economic ties between Canada and China, the prospects for a free trade agreement in the future, and why Canada is looking to diversify its options as NAFTA’s fate remains up in the air.

WRP: Canada and China are considering a free trade agreement. How significant are economic ties between the two countries, and what are the largest sectors of trade?

Stewart Beck: China is Canada’s second-largest trading partner. Export trade to China is dominated by natural resource products and commodities, such as pulp and oil seeds. Imports from China are predominantly manufactured goods. The target sectors for Canada in an ambitious free trade agreement with China would be in the services sector, where there is a tremendous opportunity for trade growth.

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