Canada has put the idea of a free trade agreement with China on hold, attacking a priority that once dominated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau`s desire to challenge relations with the world`s second-largest economy. The stagnation of the negotiations does not help anyone in Canada or China. Ottawa really should focus on creating a free trade agreement with Beijing. Prime Minister Harper`s December 2009 trip to the People`s Republic could be used to explore the possibility of a valid bilateral trade agreement between the two countries. If the initial discussions were successful, it would be a watershed moment in the Conservative government`s trade policy. It would also send an undeniable signal to the international community that Canada remains firmly committed to multilateralism and diplomacy and is strongly opposed to any form of protectionism. Equally important is that a Sino-Canadian free trade agreement can probably support China`s economic development and improve the living, working and living conditions of many of the country`s poor citizens. To that end, the Conservative Party should not allow its principles to impinge on any initiative to promote free trade with the CPP. China is certainly a human rights rapist, but it is not irremediable and it is unlikely that the public punishments of the Hu Jintao government will bear fruit. If Canada is to improve the human rights conditions for Chinese workers and dissidents, Ottawa should engage constructively by committing to a mutually beneficial trade agreement with Beijing.
A pragmatic attitude towards a principle will ultimately lead to better long-term outcomes for Canada and China. China has become the world`s third largest destination for agricultural products and is expected to become the world`s largest importer of agricultural products by 2020. China will be crucial to Canada`s economic future over the next 50 years. China is and will remain Canada`s second-largest two-way domestic trading partner after the United States in 2019: Canada`s ambassador to China, John McCallum, resigned in January after some unsupervised remarks on the Meng case to Chinese-language media. Months later, the Trudeau government appointed business advisor Dominic Barton, a longtime advocate of stronger trade relations with China, to succeed McCallum. At that time, the Sino-Canadian divide widened: China halted imports of rapeseed, meat and other Canadian products, while Mr. Trudeau called on the United States to stop a trade agreement with China until the imprisoned Canadians were released. The Swiss agreement, for example, provides for almost 100% of tariffs on imports of Swiss products from China and the abolition of tariffs on 84% of Chinese imports of Swiss products.
READ MORE: No free trade with China under a conservative government, says Andrew Scheer (2017) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing in 2016.