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Trudeau government set to launch Canada-China Free Trade Agreement talks in December

The Trudeau government appears to be on the verge of beginning ‘free trade’ talks with the Chinese government.

The National Post reports, “Justin Trudeau is expected to announce he is heading to Beijing early next month to launch free trade talks with China. The trip has not been finalized but diplomatic sources suggest he will head east in the first week of December.”

This is in keeping with what we have previously read.

On September 6, the National Post reported, “According to a Canadian government official familiar with the matter, formal exploratory talks with China wrapped up in July. Officials are crunching numbers and are expected provide analysis to trade minister François-Philippe Champagne before the end of the month. Cabinet could be discussing a decision by October, and Champagne could be on his way to China in December if there’s a green light, the official said. Experts concur talks would likely take multiple years to complete, probably past the next federal election in October 2019.”

Earlier this year, Charles Burton, a former counsellor at the Canadian embassy in Beijing, commented, “Opinion polls indicate most Canadians do not want further political-economic integration with China, but elements of Canada’s business elite, with lucrative connections to Chinese business networks, are lobbying the Prime Minister’s Office hard to push on.”

The Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) was ratified in September 2014 by the Harper Conservatives with the support of the Trudeau Liberals. That agreement was opposed by the Hupacasath First Nation that sees the deal as a violation of Indigenous rights.

As a net importer of Chinese investment, especially in energy and resources, investment protection provisions pose a real threat to the public interest. The existing investment pact with China notably allows Chinese energy companies to threaten the federal, provincial or territorial governments against imposing environmental rules on tar sands production, pipeline construction and other projects.

It should also be highlighted that on January 15, 2016, The Globe and Mail reported, “China wants to forge a historic free-trade deal with Canada, but a senior Chinese official said this will require Canadian concessions on investment restrictions and a commitment to build an energy pipeline to the coast.”

Less than a year later, on November 29, 2016, the Trudeau government announced its approval of the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline to the British Columbia coast.

The Council of Canadians opposes a Canada-China FTA and sees it as detrimental to people and the environment in both Canada and China.