International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr arrives to a senate committee on foreign affairs and international trade on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Carr, Morneau off to China next month to deepen commerce

Carr says Canada and China aren’t embarking on formal free trade talks

Two senior Liberal cabinet ministers are off to Beijing next month to co-chair a high-level business conference and to push Canada’s trade interests with China.

International Trade Minister Jim Carr says he and Finance Minister Bill Morneau will be in the Chinese capital for two days starting on Nov. 11 to advance Canada’s trading interests.

RELATED: Canada will pursue deeper trade ties with China: Prime minister

Carr is also reiterating that nothing in the recently negotiated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement prevents Canada from doing just that.

Carr was asked during testimony before the Senate trade committee about a controversial clause in the new USMCA.

It allows any of the countries to withdraw from the deal on six-months’ notice if one of the partners starts free trade negotiations with a non-market economy — widely assumed to be China — to which they object.

Carr says Canada and China aren’t embarking on formal free trade talks so, for now, it has nothing to tell its North American partners.

“We will look to deepening and broadening our trading relationships with China, sector by sector. If at some stage of the game we enter into a conversation about a full free trade agreement, we will inform our North American partners as we are obliged to do,” said Carr.

“But it does not constrain us in continuing to deepen our ties with China or any other nation in the world.”

RELATED: Trudeau looks to restart Canada’s UN charm offensive in New York City

Carr says the clause is “reciprocal” and applies to the U.S. and Mexico as well. If Canada does enter into free trade talks with China, it will duly inform the North American partners, he added.

“And if our partners don’t like it, they have the capacity to bolt from the agreement, just as they do now.”

Carr noted the current North American Free Trade Agreement as well as the newly negotiated USMCA have a broad termination clause that allows any party to leave the agreement, for any reason, by giving six months’ notice.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa has blasted inclusion of the new clause, saying it targets China’s potential trading partners and unfairly brands it as a non-market economy.

Trade experts and analysts support the careful approach Carr is advocating because it gives Canada room to talk to China, without overtly angering the U.S.

The U.S. is embroiled in a trade war with China that has seen the imposition of hundreds of billions dollars of tariffs by the Trump administration on Chinese goods and retaliation by Beijing.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Firefighters have doused a Peachland house fire

Fire crews are still on scene investigating the cause of the BBQ fire which made its way to the home

Special memorial service to say goodbye to murdered teen

A memorial service and celebratio of life was held Tuesday for murdered teen Elijah-Iain Beauregard

Wilson M. Beck Charity Golf Tournament in Kelowna benefiting YMCA of Okanagan

The tournament is sold out with 144 golfers swinging for the cause

Is construction in Kelowna hurting small businesses, or helping them?

Voices from both sides of the spectrum weigh in

Kelowna baseballers invited to league all-star game

The 2019 West Coast League All-Star Game will have two players from the Kelowna Falcons

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

False report of dead body leads police to sex dolls at Manning Park

Princeton RCMP breathed a sigh of relief, momentarily, when they discovered a… Continue reading

Ironman returns to Okanagan after seven-year absence

Subaru Ironman Canada is coming back to Penticton in 2020

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Okanagan College campus flies Syilx flag

The Okanagan Nation Alliance flag was raised at a ceremony at Vernon campus on July 16

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

Summerland clinic will be closed on August long weekend

Medical office assistant needed at Rosedale Medical Clinic

Most Read