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Trudeau to keep exploring possible China trade deal

Reuters

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang shake hands during a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday.

Reuters BEIJING (Reuters) — Canada will continue to explore a free trade agreement with China, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday, as it weighs its options after the United States threatened to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Speaking after a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Trudeau said if “done properly,” such an agreement would benefit both countries and strengthen the middle class.

“It’s an opportunity that makes sense for Canadian businesses,” he said at the start of a five-day trip to China. “Canada is and always has been a trading nation. But the landscape of trade is shifting and we need to adjust to it.”

Li said China remained open to exploring a free trade deal with Canada as part of joint efforts to safeguard world trade liberalization and advance globalization.

“We have an open attitude toward the process of negotiations, and an open attitude towards their contents,” Li said.

Canada is considering whether to launch talks on a free trade deal with China, which wants a trade pact similar to the ones it has with Australia and New Zealand.

But Trudeau, aware of domestic unease at the idea, is moving slowly. Although polls consistently show Canadians are split over the merits of a trade deal, Canada needs to diversify exports to offset the possible damage done if the United States pulls out of NAFTA.

Trudeau’s visit, which began on Sunday, comes as plane maker Bombardier Inc. is eager to win a breakthrough order from Chinese carriers for its CSeries jet, whose fuselage is made in China.

But the chance of sealing such deals has become more cloudy after Canada encouraged Bombardier to sell a controlling stake in the CSeries program to Airbus rather than a Chinese firm.

“On the agricultural front, I’m pleased to announce Canadian beef and pork will have greater access to the Chinese market,” Trudeau said, without elaborating.Speech

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