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Harper’s trade agenda at APEC, and with India and China

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Singapore on November 14 and 15,  visiting India from November 16 to 18, and will be in China from December 2 to 6.

The Canwest News Service reported in early-October that, “Ever since the APEC meeting last year in Peru, Harper has used international events to counsel against protectionism, a view shared by China and India.”

The Canwest News Service has also reported that, “Among other things, (Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) and Harper are expected to use the trip to talk about establishing a Canada-India Free Trade Agreement or smaller steps that would lower trade barriers between the countries.”

Additionally, “Indian officials have told The Globe and Mail they are preparing to finalize a raft of trade-related agreements, including deals to allow Canadian nuclear exports to India, to smooth investment, and to open talks toward a potential free trade agreement.”

On the visit to China, Harper says, “Our two countries enjoy a growing partnership, sharing significant interests in trade and investment, the environment and regional security.”

The Globe and Mail reports that, “One Conservative noted that underlined how Canada cannot rely on the U.S. as its dominant trading partner, and had to look harder at emerging partners like China.”

In a speech in September in Beijing, former prime minister Brian Mulroney said, “There have been discussions about a Canada-China Investment Agreement for more than 10 years. The time has come to get it done.”

The Globe and Mail reports, “Beijing has also emerged as a pivotal player on political questions like forging an international climate change treaty – so much so that some now refer to the U.S. and China as a ‘G2’ group of nations…”

But on the climate change front, it should be remembered that, “Calgary-based Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. sold a 60-per-cent interest in two of its undeveloped projects near Fort McMurray (this past September) to the international unit of PetroChina Co. Ltd. (whose parent is the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp.)”

Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. expects the PetroChina deal (for projects that contain an estimated 5 billion barrels of tar sands oil) to close on October 31, and said it expects government approvals to pose little obstacle.

National Post columnist Don Martin has written that tar sands exports to China, “will require Canada, whose pipelines now head only north and south, to punch a hole in the Rockies and open up a crude flow to the west coast, from where oil could head overseas.”

G8/ G20
The Canwest News Service has also commented that Harper’s trip to China “could pay dividends for Canada’s standing on the world stage as it prepares to host key international summits (the G8 and G20) in 2010.”

A National Post report adds, “Because China and India are influential members of the G20, Mr. Harper can boost his standing among other leaders by demonstrating a close relationship with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao.”

When it was announced in June 2008 that Canada would host the G8 summit, Stephen Harper said that “As hosts, our government will have considerable say over the agenda. It will be a tremendous opportunity to promote Canada’s values and interests; to advocate for open markets and trade opportunities…”

Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders wrote in mid-October that, “Officials hope to have all bargaining positions on the table by the end of this year and the CETA deal fully negotiated within two years, with a major push at next year’s G8 summit in Huntsville, Ontario.”

The G8 includes France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. The European Union is represented at the G8 by the President of the European Commission and the leader of the country that holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The G20 is comprised of 19 countries (including France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom) and the European Union.

The news reports are at http://theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/stephen-harper-heads-to-china/article1341855/? and http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2154800.

Related campaign blogs are at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=396, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=1919, and http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2018.