Justin Trudeau makes his first official trip to China next week as prime minister of Canada and one expert says this could mean big things for Alberta.
Gordon Houlden spent 22 years working on Chinese affairs with the Canadian government and now he’s the executive director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta. Speaking on the Alberta Morning News, he says new canola regulations come into effect on Thursday which most canola producers believe to be unenforceable. China is demanding that Canada reduce the amount of organic waste materials in Canola seed shipments, also known as “dockage”. The industry standard is 2.5%, but China wants that down to 1%, starting September 1st.
“In a good year it’s Canada’s number one export and it’s easily this province’s number one export to China. China is our number two trading partner, so that’s in effect a hit below the waterline for our trade with China,” said Houlden.
Another issue for discussion could be the energy sector. Houlden says China made a big investment into Alberta oilfields and since the recession hit, they are not seeing the return they normally would.
“We’ve got 70% of China’s investment in Canada just in this province concentrated in the energey sector. It would appear that they overpaid for amenities and purchases, Nexen in particular and many others.”
Houlden says it will be a tough negotiation.
“There is a possibility that sometimes I’ve seen happen with heads of government when they get together or just before the get together, there’s some people that start saying in each government “why are we being so difficult with this one?”. My experience with the Chinese is if we do get movement, they’re going to want something quid pro quo. They’re touch negotiators.”
Houlden says both sides have challenges of high expectations. (djs)