GUANGZHOU, China – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is suggesting that including a progressive agenda in free trade talks with China isn’t an insurmountable challenge.
Trudeau talked about trade during an appearance on Thursday at the Fortune Global Forum, a gathering of the world’s business elite.
He was asked about the prospect of a free trade deal with China, something both countries have toyed with but have yet to commit to formal negotiations on.
Trudeau says any deal Canada agrees to must benefit ordinary citizens, not just the bottom line of multinational corporations or the country.
“That’s something that is an increased imperative everywhere around the world, including here in China where what has been done over the past decades has lifted hundreds of people out of poverty and into the global middle class.”
Trudeau acknowledged that the two countries have a lot of work to do to “interface” their different systems in a way that is mutually beneficial and China must be reassured that the values Canadians hold dear will fit in with a trade deal. He says there are ways to achieve that, using the environment as an example.
“There is a recognition that making progress on the environment is very good for citizens, very good for the country even though it’s more of a progressive thing in certain labels, China has been a world leader on that,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau said earlier in the week after meeting with China’s leaders that there wasn’t any single issue that is holding up progressing to formal talks, but Canada has insisted that the talks factor in issues like women’s rights, labour and environmental protection.
International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne stayed behind in Beijing to continue discussions.
Trudeau began his last day in China by touring a 19th century temple and witnessing a traditional lion dance.
He performed a traditional eye-dotting ritual on the costumed head of a lion after taking a tour of Chen Clan Academy in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.