The head of the local China – Canada Business Association sees Edmonton’s agriculture companies ready to benefit from a free trade deal. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday Canada and China have embarked on exploratory talks towards a potential free trade agreement between the two countries. Locally, it’s seen as a great opportunity.
“They have a 1.4 billion people. The living standard is up. A lot of people are looking for good products of quality, especially the food. They want good quality food,” said Kirk Quan with the CCBA.
“I have a couple of members, who are talking about exporting beef, and poultry products to China. I see if free trade is discussed, we’ll benefit as local business.”
“The value added here (is important). The high end product for Canada. They don’t want low end. China can produce low end. Here we give them products that are very safe.”
“As long as you put a mark, made in Canada, Chinese love it. People say bring Canadian products, what ever the dollar is for the worth, we’ll pay for it.”
Trade and political observers see bilateral talks between Canada and China as a good opportunity, especially with the U.S. signalling trouble with the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. Quan said a one on one deal will be best since China has already got trade deals with countries like Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea.
“It’s up to parliament.”
“Canada should stand on this particularly with China, alone, instead of following some big brother.”
Trudeau also said the two countries have reached an agreement to effectively end a lingering dispute over Canadian canola exports, although he offered no specifics.
“It provides the market with stability so that exporters can pursue markets with confidence,” said Greg Sears, with the Alberta Canola Producers Commission, who’s also just learning the initial details on the agreement.
“China takes, in the past about forty per cent of our feed exports, so it’s a critical market to be maintained and we’re certainly hoping it’ll grow in the future. As it stands right now we’re happy to see the stability return to that marketplace.”
The two countries hope to double bilateral trade by 2025.
(sj with files from The Canadian Press)