24 Nov 2017
Canada Issues Results of Public Consultation on Potential FTA with Mainland China
The Canadian government has issued the results of its public consultation on a potential bi-lateral free trade agreement with mainland China, which was conducted between 4 March and 2 June 2017. The views of Canadians were collected in a number of ways, including through in-person meetings and teleconferences with Canadian stakeholders, as well as through the publication of a Canada Gazette notice and a dedicated consultation website inviting Canadians to submit their views. Since 4 March, government officials have interacted with over 600 stakeholders and partners and received over 130 submissions from Canadians.
According to the government, as a whole Canadians see both opportunities and challenges associated with a possible FTA with mainland China. Canadians recognise the significant opportunities for Canadian businesses and consumers offered by the mainland Chinese market as well as the importance of mainland China for the future of the global economy. Whether in supplying mainland China’s appetite for high-quality agricultural products and natural resources, making inroads into its massive government procurement market, or leveraging mainland China as a source of, and destination for, foreign direct investment, many Canadians see real opportunities in deepening Canada’s trade relationship with the world’s second largest economy.
While a range of the difficulties identified by Canadians, like tariffs, permitting issues, establishment requirements and customs procedures, could be mitigated or resolved through a possible FTA, Canadians also expressed concerns that are more difficult to resolve using a traditional approach to free trade agreements. These concerns included challenges arising from the nature of mainland China’s state-run economy; the interplay between trade and mainland China’s human rights, environmental and labour rights records; and the inconsistent rule of law in the mainland, especially in relation to the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
Stakeholders also took advantage of the consultation process to express their views on some key domestic policy issues that the government will need to consider as Canada deepens its economic relations with mainland China, including land use, support for Canadian companies wishing to understand the mainland Chinese market, and the need for improvements to Canadian logistics and transport infrastructure.