Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau learned Monday that China is not interested in proceeding with free trade talks.
Despite Chinese Premier Li Keqiang describing his country’s relationship with Canada as a “golden era,” Trudeau’s insistence on including his agenda of climate change, gender equality and labor rights in the trade negotiations has soured the preliminary talks, Global News reports.
Trudeau has been coy about how serious he is about seeking a free trade agreement with China, but his Liberal government has been actively promoting the project with the Canadian business sector — much of which is concerned that a trade deal could cost the Canadian economy jobs.
Trudeau once lauded China because of its command economy. Asked which country he most admired, Trudeau said, “There’s a level of admiration I actually have for China. Their basic dictatorship is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime.”
Li had kind words for Trudeau, despite showing little desire to proceed with trade talks.
“This is also a testament to the golden era of our bilateral relations. This also shows the importance you attach to the relationship between our two countries,” Li said to Trudeau.
Speaking to Li during a brief media opportunity, Trudeau chose to dwell on that description rather than the failed trade talks.
“The opportunities for deepening our economic and people-to-people ties are tremendous,” Trudeau told Li as the two leaders were sitting at a large table.
“We had (a) candid and in-depth exchange of views just now and reached important common understanding,” said Li, without explanation.
China did agree to import more Canadian canola oil and will will accept higher levels of beef and pork.
Like he has with NAFTA, Trudeau is insisting that any free trade agreement with China should include a plethora of social issues but China has rejected that premise and says a trade deal is about economic issues only.