Limited China Talks Don’t Preclude Full Trade Pact, Canada Says

(Bloomberg) -- A senior Canadian delegation discussed trade of agriculture products, energy resources and financial services with Chinese counterparts -- a sector-by-sector approach that doesn’t rule out some day reaching a free trade pact, Justin Trudeau’s trade chief says.

Canadian Trade Minister Jim Carr and Finance Minister Bill Morneau spoke to reporters Monday from Beijing, where they’re leading a trade delegation. Their trip comes after a push to launch comprehensive trade talks flopped one year ago, with China balking at Canadian demands for “progressive” clauses. Carr said the countries will still pursue sectoral deals but that doesn’t rule out one day launching talks for a full free trade agreement.

“It’s not one or the other. These are trade conversations over a period of time. Trade is not an event and we’re having a continuous dialog with our Chinese counterparts about a whole variety of products,” Carr said on a conference call. “We don’t think that any of this is mutually exclusive.”

Carr said Canada and China also discussed a recent meeting on World Trade Organization reform, hosted in Ottawa without either the U.S. or China. China understands the need to hold an initial meeting without them, Carr said. “The Chinese are absolutely committed to a world system that’s rules-based, and I thought that’s also very positive.”

Canadian companies signed C$1.5 billion ($1.1 billion) in deals in fields such as agriculture and aerospace at the China International Import Expo, Canadian Ambassador to China John McCallum to the country wrote on Twitter.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.