Canada's opportunities with China better today than they have been in years: Ambassador McCallum
Canada’s ambassador to China says uncertainty surrounding the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as well as U.S. President Donald Trump’s antipathy toward environmental causes should be viewed as an opportunity to increase trade with China.
“If ever we wanted to diversify our trade, now is that time and China offers that opportunity,” John McCallum told BNN in an interview. “I think it may not be a bad idea to show the world – including the United States – that we do have other options.”
Ottawa has said it is considering pursuing free-trade talks with China. A decision on whether to pursue those negotiations is expected in the coming months.
The increasingly protectionist rhetoric from Trump, as well as his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change is giving Canada a chance to deepen its ties with the growing Asian economic power, said McCallum.
“Canada’s opportunities with China are better today than they have been for years or probably decades,” he said. “The United States under Donald Trump [is] bowing out of Climate change [and] environment [agreements] so we can step into that vacuum and the Chinese are more interested in talking to Canada.”
China will never displace the United States as Canada’s largest trading partner, he added, but Canada needs to diversify its trading partners.
“Canadians understand trade diversification and need to do business with the world’s second largest economy which is growing like gangbusters,” he said.
The country’s trade ties with China are facing increased scrutiny in light of the proposed $1.5-billion takeover of Calgary-based construction company, Aecon Group (ARE.TO) by China’s CCCC International Holding Ltd. McCallum said Canada’s economic relations with China would remain strong even if the deal were not approved.
“It’s one deal, it is not critical to the overall relationship,” he said.