Negotiating trade with China, USA, EU

Relations are improving, but we still don’t know what we want from China: Former diplomat ‘The Close’ BNN February 2, 2017

As Canada gets set to look at strengthening trade ties with China, Dentons LLP Senior Advisor Colin Robertson and former Canadian Diplomat tells BNN he’s not convinced Canada knows what it wants from China.

http://www.bnn.ca/the-close/relations-are-improving-but-we-still-don-t-know-what-we-want-from-china-former-diplomat~1049260​

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On Stephane Dion

What’s going on with Stéphane Dion?

Is he chopping logic on China, or is he contradicting Trudeau?

Tasha Kheiriddin IPOLITICS September 26 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was turning heads at the United Nations last week. His chief diplomat, Stéphane Dion, gets mostly eye-rolls these days.

Late last week, the foreign affairs minister appeared to directly contradict the prime minister on the state of discussions with China on a possible extradition treaty that would see Chinese fugitives returned to the mainland — and to China’s highly politicized justice system.

A day after Trudeau stood beside visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and defended the decision to pursue talks, Dion snapped at a Globe and Mail reporter who had called for comment on the story: “Your paper should check the facts. There is no negotiation. To write like pretending it is, it is wrong. Stop that please.”

Retired diplomat Gar Pardy described the exchange in one word: “Bewildering.”

“I doubt ‘negotiations’ in the narrow sense of the word are on,” he told me. “It’s more like the two governments agreed to sit down and discuss (the parameters). But why we have this confusion doesn’t make any sense.”

Pardy wonders if language is the issue — specifically the word “negotiations”.

“Language is a bit of a problem for Dion … There’s no reason why he needs to speak in English — he can say what he wants to say in French — but I was surprised at the snappiness to the Globe and Mail. I have not seen something like this ever before.

“If you can’t get your act together on something, then you kind of wonder what else is going on.”

Other observers are a bit more charitable. Retired diplomat Colin Robertson, now a senior strategic advisor for McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP, suggested that Dion’s comments may be a natural side effect of Trudeau’s commitment to a more cabinet-driven approach to government.

“Mr. Trudeau has sought to restore cabinet government and this will mean ministers take the lead in their portfolios. This is always complicated in foreign affairs where there is inevitable overlap between prime ministers and foreign ministers.”

open quote 761b1bThis is a diplomatic dance of the highest order. The last thing anyone needs is a minister who keeps stepping on his partner’s toes.

Robertson went on to add that the episode might actually have a silver lining for Canada: “In dealing with the Chinese, who are often opaque, a bit of ambiguity on our part may not be a bad thing in advancing Canadian interests, especially when the game is long, as it usually is with the Chinese.”

But this isn’t the first time Dion has undermined the official government line as foreign affairs minister. When the Trudeau government decided to stick with a controversial arms deal with Saudi Arabia negotiated by the Stephen Harper government, both Dion and the PM said that the deal was done and Canada had no choice but to follow through. “We have said during the campaign — the prime minister has been very clear — that we will not cancel this contract or contracts that have been done under the previous government in general,” Dion told the CBC’s Power and Politics in January 2016.

As it turned out, this assertion was false: The deal had not been finalized, because doing so required the signing of export permits — by none other than the foreign minister. Months later, Dion quietly OK’d these in April 2016 — without Trudeau’s input. Dion saw nothing wrong with this: “It’s not a cabinet decision. It’s a minister’s decision,” he said during an editorial board meeting with The Globe and Mail.

In defence of that choice, Dion cited the example of Sweden, which had reneged on a military contract with the Saudi regime over human rights concerns. “Sweden did a bit the same about a contract and the reaction has been very harsh. Saudi Arabia reacted in a way that cut many things … They cancelled a contract and the reaction has been very harsh.”

That wasn’t entirely accurate, either. When contacted by the Globe, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Foreign Ministry insisted that “we have not experienced any economic effects due to the issue that you mention and our bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia are good.” While it is true that Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador and temporarily suspended business visas for Swedes after the incident, the paper reported that the two countries began normalizing relations just a few weeks later, and that there were no lasting consequences “other than a decline in military trade.”

The minister of foreign affairs is Canada’s chief diplomat. The job requires both the careful use of language and the maintenance of a unified front with the prime minister. Projecting an image of organization and strength is critical, especially on such a sensitive issue as the negotiation of an extradition treaty with China.

“An extradition treaty a fairly complex affair,” Pardy said. “It’s all based on issues of dual criminality — the Chinese cannot ask to extradite persons for a crime that is not a crime in Canada, and vice versa.”

In other words, this is a diplomatic dance of the highest order. The last thing anyone needs is a minister who keeps stepping on his partner’s toes. Dion needs to rein in his pedantic impulse to be uber-correct, and get better in sync with the PMO. If not, Trudeau would be wise to assign him a different dance card in the next cabinet shuffle.

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On Results of the China Trip and G20

NEW PODCAST: ‘THE GLOBAL EXCHANGE’
Post-G20 Discussion: Trudeau and China

g20open.jpg
For Immediate Release

6 September 2016 – Ottawa, ON

On today’s ‘Global Exchange’ Podcast, host Colin Robertson looks at last weekend’s ‘Group of 20’ Summit in Hangzhou, China. Join Colin for a discussion with four experts in international relations – Rob Wright, Randolph Mank, Hugh Stephens, and Marius Grinius – as they look to identify the significance and impact of the most recent G20, along with the importance of Trudeau’s visit to China preluding the Summit.

What does China’s increased role international affairs mean for Canada? What did we get out of Trudeau’s visit to China, and at the G20? Does Canada have a role to play at summits such as the G20? All this and more are discussed on this weeks episode of ‘The Global Exchange’.

Bios:

  • Colin Robertson (host) A former Canadian diplomat, Colin Robertson is Vice President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a Senior Advisor to Dentons LLP.
  • Rob Wright – served as Canadian Ambassador to China from 2005-2009. He served as Ambassador to Japan from 2001-2005.
  • Randolph Mank – a three-time former Canadian ambassador and businessman, with over thirty years of experience in Asia and around the world.
  • Hugh Stephens – Executive-in-Residence at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and Vice Chair of the Canadian Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation.
  • Marius Grinius – joined the Canadian Foreign Service in 1979 after serving in the Canadian Army for 12 years. His early overseas postings included Bangkok, NATO/Brussels and Hanoi. Assignments back in Ottawa included desk officer for nuclear arms control, Director for Asia Pacific South and then Director for South East Asia.

Book Recommendations:

Related Links:

Canada playing ‘long game’ on China as it tries to counter protectionism in the global economy

Marie-Danielle Smith | September 6, 2016 1:21 PM ET
More from Marie-Danielle Smith

Justin Trudeau answers a question from Bloomberg Television anchor Angie Lau during a Canada-Hong Kong business luncheon, held by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, during his visit to Hong Kong on September 6, 2016.

Anthony Wallace / AFP / Getty ImagesJustin Trudeau answers a question from Bloomberg Television anchor Angie Lau during a Canada-Hong Kong business luncheon, held by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, during his visit to Hong Kong on September 6, 2016.

HONG KONG — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrapped up his first official visit to China Tuesday with another push for close co-operation, including on human rights, and for openness and inclusiveness in the global economy.

“The kinds of anxieties we’re seeing around the world as people are closing in are going to leave us all poorer and worse off,” he said in Hong Kong Tuesday, expanding on messages Canada brought to the G20 table Sunday and Monday.

“There are not as many bright spots in terms of growth and openness and trade as we’d like to see around the world.”

Though it has yet to be ratified, one example could be the Canada-EU trade agreement, as election rhetoric in the U.S. could leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal dead in the water.

During his tour, Trudeau tried to make the case that the relationship between Canada and China could be another such bright spot.

In Beijing, finance minister Bill Morneau signalled Canada’s intent to apply for membership in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, joining other countries such as the U.K. and Australia. (The United States is not a an AIIB member.)

 

Trudeau downplays chance of protectionist rise in Canada 2:00

And in Shanghai, trade minister Chrystia Freeland signed $1.2 billion worth of commercial deals with Chinese corporations, followed by another series of signings in Hong Kong Tuesday. A foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with Hong Kong also went into force.

In Hangzhou, just before the G20 summit got underway, Trudeau launched a Canadian pavilion on Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platform. It was, Canadian businesspeople said on Saturday, a positive way to reach more of the Chinese consumer market.

Trudeau’s high-level meetings with Chinese leadership showed strong support for trade and investment on both sides.

A spat over Chinese restrictions on Canadian canola — which Global Affairs Canada fellow Colin Robertson said was “China showing its muscle and trying to intimidate us” — was temporarily resolved amid further negotiation.

AP Photo / Vincent Yu

AP Photo / Vincent Yu Trudeau speaks with scouts at the Sai Wan war cemetery in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016.

Addressing concerns in Canada, Trudeau strengthened his language on human rights Tuesday, appearing more relaxed in Hong Kong on the last day of his visit. He said he didn’t see a trade-off between human rights and a closer economic relationship.

“I think you have to talk fully and frankly about human rights and engage and talk about the challenges that need to be faced,” Trudeau said.

He added that in talks with Chinese leaders, he raised the example of a scathing 2014 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples in Canada.

I don’t think it means any less of us that we recognize that there is still work to do, and that was the tenor of the conversations I had with the Chinese leadership

“I don’t think it means any less of us that we recognize that there is still work to do, and that was the tenor of the conversations I had with the Chinese leadership.”

This is all part of a “long game,” according to Roland Paris, Trudeau’s first international adviser who now teaches at the University of Ottawa. Trudeau, Paris said, is setting a positive tone to Canada’s inevitable relationship with the world’s second-biggest economy.

According to Chinese sources and social media, Trudeau remains a popular figure in China. The prime minister’s celebrity, even if often focused on his appearance, “gives Canada more attention,” Robertson said, “which thus far is almost uniformly positive.”

The fact China hosted Canada in the busy lead-up to the G20 was a strong sign of “the importance that the Chinese put on their relationship with Canada,” said Paris.

Paris rejected suggestions that Canada is pivoting away from the U.S. by joining the AIIB. “The United States will remain our principal partner, trading partner and ally just by virtue of geography,” he said. He added that the U.S. is beating Canada in the race to capitalize on trade with Asia — something Canada “can’t afford not to pursue.”

At the economy-focused G20 summit, Trudeau wasn’t in the spotlight and didn’t hold many bilateral meetings, though he did meet with new U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.

The failure of the U.S. and Russia to reach a deal on Syria stole significant attention at the summit, but Trudeau avoided commenting on the issue.

Still, in the context of the G20’s economic focus, Paris said the prime minister showed himself to be “one of the world’s leading voices for openness and inclusion and against protectionism and discrimination and xenophobia and building walls.” Trudeau, Paris said, offered a “full-throated” defence of small-l liberal values to other leaders.

With careful language around issues sensitive to China, including the South China Sea and the results of a legislative vote in Hong Kong that saw some young pro-democracy candidates elected, Trudeau appeared to want to protect a friendly start to his relationship with Chinese leadership.

And Trudeau will have an unusually short time to prepare for his next encounter with the economic giant — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is expected to travel to Ottawa in mid-September.

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Canada and China

Canada’s negotiating position in China

BNN interviews Colin Robertson on what can be accomplished during Trudeau’s first official visit to China.

http://www.bnn.ca/video/canada-s-negotiating-position-in-china~941042

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 5.14.39 PM

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Justin Trudeau goes to China

Trudeau visits China: 6 things to watch

Prime minister leaves today for his first official visit to Beijing

By Susan Lunn, CBC News Posted: Aug 29, 2016 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: Aug 29, 2016 12:48 PM ET

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Trudeau departs for China and G20 1:20

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau departs for his first official visit to China, Canada’s second-largest trading partner, here are six things to watch.

How warm a welcome?

When Stephen Harper first went to China in 2009, the prime minister received a frosty reception and was famously chastised by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao for not visiting sooner.

And that was when journalists were still in the room.

A senior official quipped afterwards that the reception was so frosty, icicles nearly formed on the mirrors in the room at the Great Hall of the People.

Trudeau has been critical of the Harper government’s handling of the relationship.

“Over the past government’s mandate, unfortunately, relationships with China were somewhat inconstant. They went from hot to cold depending on the issue, depending on the day, it seemed,” Trudeau said Monday.

TRUDEAU CHINA TRIP 1973

Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai toasts Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau during a banquet held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 11, 1973. (Peter Bregg/Canadian Press)

By all accounts, Trudeau should receive a much different welcome.

“The name Trudeau is almost as good as being [revered Canadian doctor Norman] Bethune, because it was, after all, Pierre Trudeau who took the step to recognize China in 1971,” said former diplomat Colin Robertson, who at one point was posted in Hong Kong.

Robertson noted Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping also have something in common: they are both sons of famous fathers.

“So he starts off well past first base, whereas Stephen Harper was still working his way to first base even when he got there.”

Progress on a free trade deal?

As Canada’s biggest trading partner behind the United States, China would like a free trade agreement with Canada.

The previous Conservative government produced studies on the idea that were positive, but not much has been done since.

What will Canada agree to during this visit? Exploratory talks? Or more study?

Robertson said he doesn’t think the Trudeau government has decided yet, and that could be a problem as officials get ready to sit down with the Chinese.

“When you negotiate with the Chinese, despite the tea and buns, they are much more dragon than panda.”

Canada-China Relations 20160127

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he wants to set “a very clear and constructive relationship with China.” (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Canadian investment in Asian infrastructure

Beyond free trade, China would also like Canada to invest in its $100-billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The AIIB was created to support the development of infrastructure in China. Countries that invest in the bank give their country’s firms preferential access to projects funded by the AIIB.

Canadian firms are keen to get a piece of this business and are hoping Trudeau will send a positive signal during this visit, said former Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day, now a vice-president with the Canada-China Business Council.

“I think there’s a huge opportunity for Canadian firms; large firms, mid-size firms. We’re very well acquainted with issues related to developing infrastructure in cold weather and in extreme climates. We’ve got so much to offer there,” Day said.

David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, disagrees.

mulroney-cp-w-7725417

David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

“I actually think we made the right decision in not joining,” said Mulroney, who’s now president of the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto. “China is, in my view, far from ready for hosting a major multilateral financial institution.

“As they were announcing the launch of the bank they were shutting down the website for Reuters, which is one of the premier financial media outlets in the world.”

Asked about potential investment in the bank, senior Canadian government officials would only say, “We will have more to say on the trip.”

Human rights and global security

Trudeau has promised to balance economic interests with human rights.

“What we want to do is set a very clear and constructive relationship with China that yes, looks at the potential economic benefits of better trade relationships, while at the same time ensuring that our voice is heard clearly on issues of human rights, of labour rights, of democracy, environmental stewardship,” Trudeau said.

He will get a chance to raise thorny issues like human rights, canola exports and the espionage case of Canadian Kevin Garratt when he meets with the Chinese premier and president Wednesday in Beijing.

Garratt family

Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt, flanked by their son Peter and daughter Hannah, were detained in August 2014 near the border with North Korea. They were accused of stealing Chinese military secrets. Julia Garratt was released on bail on Feb. 5, 2015. (Simeon Garratt)

Day accompanied Harper on two of his visits to China, and he has no doubt Trudeau will raise these issues as well, in the appropriate way, behind closed doors.

“You can make headway sitting down around a table, eyeball to eyeball, and without trying to make political points,” Day told CBC.

Mulroney adds the Chinese are very used to foreign leaders raising these issues.

“You want to address it in a non-confrontational way because you want the conversation to continue. And you want to nudge and move the Chinese system into a direction that’s going to be helpful for Canada,” he said.

Canada and the G20

China has promised to ratify the Paris Accord to fight climate change in advance of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, which begins Sept. 4.

There are media reports the U.S. will also sign, with China, two days before the international summit.

Canada has promised to ratify the accord by the end of the year. There have been no such reports it plans to do so in China.

Canadian officials are also expected to talk with European delegations about the Canada-EU free trade deal.

Reasonable expectations

The general advice for Trudeau seems to be to not rush into anything with China, but rather to focus on building a long-term relationship.

Day said both parties have an “assured sense” they’ll be dealing with each other for at least the next several years, “so it gives some opportunity to build some types of relationships and decision-making that can have long-term effects and prosperity for Canadians.”

How Trudeau’s visit to China could help the case of a Canadian jailed for spying
Head By Andrew Russell National Online Reporter Global News

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WATCH ABOVE: Justin Trudeau hopes to reset relations with China on 1st official visit
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As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to China on his first official visit, two issues that could be on the agenda as he meets with Chinese president Xi Jinping are human rights and the case of Canadian Kevin Garratt who has been charged with espionage.

Ahead of the official visit, Trudeau said his government would balance strengthening business ties between the two countries with concerns over human rights issues in China.

“What we want to do is set a very clear and constructive relationship with China that yes, looks at the potential economic benefits of better trade relationships, while at the same time ensuring that our voice is heard clearly on issues of human rights, of labour rights, of democracy, environmental stewardship,” Trudeau told reporters last week in Sudbury, Ont.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau hopes to reset relations with China on 1st official visit

The Chinese regime has been accused of targeting activists and dissidents, persecuting people for religious beliefs, and using torture. But China’s ambassador to Canada, Luo Zhaohui, made an attempt to quell fears of his government’s troubled human rights record ahead of Trudeau’s trip.

WATCH: PM Trudeau heads to China to talk trade, human rights. Shirlee Engel reports

“You say you’re concerned about human rights issues? I think this is understandable,” Luo told the Canadian Press. “Every country has their own problems with human rights issues. No country thinks that their human rights situation is perfect.

“(In) China, we’ve got a long way to go to improve the human rights situation, but at the same time we have also made a lot of progress in the past many years.”

READ MORE: Chinese official angered by question from Canadian journalist

Who is Kevin Garratt?

Trudeau will also get the chance to speak with Chinese officials about the case of Kevin Garratt – a Canadian man who was charged with spying and stealing Chinese state secrets. Garratt and his wife Julia — who have lived in China for 30 years — were arrested in August 2014 by the state security bureau. Julia Garratt was released on bail in February 2015.

Their son Simeon Garratt, who lives in Vancouver, has previously denied his parents were involved in any wrongdoing.

Former Canadian ambassadors who spoke with Global News said Trudeau could send a strong message just by raising the issue when he sits down with Jingping on Wednesday.

“Just by raising the arrest of Mr. Garratt he flags to the Chinese authorities that this is something the Canadian government puts some priority on. That alone sends the message.” said Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and vice-president with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Gar Pardy, the former head of Canada’s consular services, said in rare cases China has been known to release prisoners based on high-profile representation. Garratt’s case was also raised by the former Conservative government.

Pardy said releasing Garratt would be an “easy” gesture for Chinese officials looking to improving the relationship between the two countries.

“Whether or not they will do it no one can hazard any sort of a definite answer,” Pardy said.

Robertson added that Trudeau will be closely watched by the press on the issues following a visit in Juned from China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

WATCH: China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs blasts Canadian journalist over human rights question

Tension over China’s jailing of the Garratt’s boiled over after Minister Yi publicly berated a Canadian journalist for asking about the case.

“Your question is full of prejudice against China and arrogance … I don’t know where that comes from. This is totally unacceptable,” Minister Yi said through a translator at a joint news conference with Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion.

Dion, who was sharply criticized for staying silent during the incident, has said that both he and Trudeau raised Garratt’s case with Wang and discussed human rights.

China admits human rights concern ahead of Trudeau visit
China admits human rights concern ahead of Trudeau visit

Canadian prime minister aims to strengthen economic ties with China

World Bulletin / News Desk

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left on Monday for his first official visit to China, in a bid to better relations between the two countries.

But one sticking point has already been addressed – that of human rights.

“[In] China, we’ve got a long way to go to improve the human rights situation, but at the same time we also made a lot of progress in the past many years,” Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui told the Canadian Press wire service in an interview prior to Trudeau’s trip.

The admission could be considered a preemptive strike to ease tensions since Canada has chastised China on its human rights issues many times in the past. Trudeau had promised to revisit the issue during his week-long visit.

But better economic ties between the two countries is the major objective, Canadian media reported.

Next to the United States, China is Canada’s largest trading partner and China would like to negotiate a free-trade agreement with Canada.

It is not always easy to broker deals with China, according to former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, who was at one time was posted to China.

“When you negotiate with the Chinese, despite the tea and buns, they are much more dragon than panda,” he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada’s state media.

Relations between the two countries was frosty when Stephen Harper was Canada’s prime minister. Trudeau’s Liberals took over government after winning election in the fall of 2015.

“Over the past government’s mandate, unfortunately, relations with China were somewhat inconstant,” Trudeau told reporters Monday. “They went from hot to cold, depending on the issue, depending on the day, it seemed.”

But Robertson said Trudeau has a better chance of reaching deals with China because the prime minister’s father, who is also a former prime minister of Canada, was one of the first Western leaders to recognize communist China in 1971.

Economics again is slated to dominate the visit.

China also wants Canada to invest in its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to the tune of CAN$100 billion.

China is more likely to look favorable on countries that have invested in the bank when it comes to awarding contracts for various projects within China and Canadian businesses are eager for a piece of that, according to the CBC.

On Sunday the G20 Summit in Hangzhou convenes and Trudeau’s stated goal of improving economic ties with China will have a chance to strengthen – leaders are expected to discuss ways to advance global economic co-operation and development, the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest newspaper, reported.

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China Trade Talks

 

In trade talks with China, Canada must have a negotiating position

COLIN ROBERTSON The Globe and Mail Wednesday, Aug. 03, 2016

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s official visit to China a month away, Canadian policy toward the Middle Kingdom is under review. Closer relations will serve Canadian interests, mindful that when dealing with China, the game is long and often tortuous.

The Chinese want a free-trade deal and their objectives are clear: improved access to our energy and agri-food resources and a more relaxed regime for Chinese investment, especially state-owned enterprises.

But what are our objectives?

Recent studies – notably those by Wendy Dobson and Paul Evans, and Laura Dawson and Dan Ciuriak – point out the potential benefits of a free-trade agreement (FTA), and the Canadian business community has been mostly encouraging.

But now we need negotiating positions.

The Harper government’s complementarities studies are now four years old and there is little evidence the Track II dialogue around a maritime energy corridor made any progress. The Trudeau government ruminates about joining the China-inspired Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank but shouldn’t this fit into our larger strategy?

A good starting position should be the recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership and the standards it sets for investment, intellectual property and services, as well as environment and labour.

Launching an FTA with China will startle American policymakers who take for granted the Canadian energy that underwrites their “energy independence.” Getting more of our oil and gas to Pacific tidewater will get us a better price as well as leverage in dealing with resurgent American protectionism.

Talks with China should encourage Japan to resume the nascent Canada-Japan economic partnership negotiations, set aside in favour of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is now at risk of becoming a victim to U.S. protectionism.

The Chinese are tough negotiators. As a rising great power they confidently believe they hold the upper hand. They are skilled in playing off Western impatience. For China a tentative “deal” is often just the starting point for serious negotiations.

The Chinese are also masters at “hardball.” The recent public dressing-down of a Canadian journalist, by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, for her “prejudice” and “arrogance,” is right out of the Chinese playbook on forcing “foreign devils” to kowtow to them. During his 2009 visit to Beijing, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had to endure the public scolding of Premier Wen Jiabao for taking too long to visit China.

Recent Chinese behaviour – that of their Foreign Minister as well as their rejection of the recent international tribunal ruling on the South China Sea – deserves a response.

Prime Minister Trudeau can underline his credentials as a G7/20 leader by speaking before a Chinese audience to the responsibilities of all nations, including China, to the rules, norms and institutions of the liberal international order. Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, blindsided by Wang Yi in Ottawa, should speak to Chinese students about human rights, press freedom and the rule of law.

Tougher, necessary and behind-closed-doors conversations should also be held around ongoing Chinese cyberespionage and cybertheft aimed at our institutions and on efforts to influence our elected officials. There should be a discussion of Hong Kong as well as the consular case of Kevin Garratt, the Canadian missionary indicted by China for espionage.

Much easier will be the discussions around enhancing our people-to-people ties.

The Harper government achieved “approved destination status” for Chinese travellers. They are now our third-largest tourist source. There are more than 100,000 Chinese students in Canada. Representing one-third of our foreign students, they inject over $2-billion annually into our economy. Recent Chinese immigration has also increased their numbers to over 500,000, the second-largest foreign-born group in Canada. These ever-expanding family ties are an advantage, especially given the overseas Chinese business networks.

Pierre Trudeau once remarked that “Canada has a ringside seat on the Pacific.” But our engagement has been episodic and lacking in sustained strategic direction. We were late, often reluctant, participants in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Our investment in regional security is minimal. The people flow requires more effective marketing. It’s time to get into the ring, and China is the place to start.

In negotiating with China the Trudeau government needs to be disciplined, focused and patient. Nor should we ever forget that as negotiators the Chinese are more dragon than panda.

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Justin Trudeau’s internationalism after six months

What Trudeau needs to do to sustain international momentum

In most countries, a shift from the right to a centre-left government would mean significant policy change.

But this is Canada, a place where the political spectrum runs from F to M as opposed to A to Z, as a former U.S. ambassador once observed.

This is especially true in the broad arena of international policy, where the biggest change wrought by the Liberal majority victory has largely been in style and personality – from the dour and secretive Stephen Harper to the optimistic and open Justin Trudeau.

Actual policy – whether foreign, defence, trade or immigration – is mostly unchanged. The shifts, especially on climate and in the embrace of the 25,000 Syrian refugees, represent more of a restoration of traditional Canadian policies than real policy change, including a return to cabinet government and first ministers’ meetings.

There is also the promise of re-engagement with China – and the likelihood of a free trade agreement there – as well as re-establishing relations with Russia – beginning with our shared interests in the Arctic. It is clear that this government is progressive but pragmatic – as witnessed by its willingness to forge ahead with the $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Mr. Trudeau, more so than Mr. Harper, will be constantly gauging the public mood and appetite for change.

More than most nations, the Canadian sense of self depends on what we do and how we are seen to do internationally. About to mark six months since its election, the Trudeau government and its “sunny ways” enjoys broad support partly because of its visibly activist multilateralism.

But sustaining this momentum will require three things: care, commitment and cash.

The “bromance” with U.S. President Barack Obama should yield dividends on climate, border access and regulatory collaboration and, hopefully, a resolution on softwood lumber. But the Trudeau team’s outreach to congressional leadership must continue if we are to deflect the rising voices of protectionism.

Restoring a dialogue with Canada’s premiers should help advance our trade and climate goals. But deepening North American integration increasingly depends on initiative from state and provincial governments. Mr. Trudeau should invite premiers and governors to the upcoming North American leaders’ summit to showcase his commitment to both trade and climate change.

Before the summit can take place, the government has to deliver on its promise to lift visa requirements for Mexicans or President Enrique Peña Nieto will not come.

Similarly, international agenda overload is also a significant risk. Recognizing that what brings accolades internationally does not necessarily serve Canadian interests requires tough-minded decision-making. And then there is the ambitious domestic agenda: electoral reform, reconciliation with our indigenous peoples and, eventually, balancing the budget.

Getting this done will require considerable discipline and a senior civil service that is innovative and results-oriented. While there was no love lost between the Harper government and senior officials (mutual contempt best describes the relationship with the foreign service) there was comfort in compliance. Mr. Trudeau should not hesitate to make changes if he is to deliver on his agenda.

Finally, the Pearsonian internationalist reputation Mr. Trudeau aspires to restore depends on investments in hard power as well as soft power. We have yet to live down the reputation, as former foreign minister John Manley observed, of excusing ourselves to go to the washroom when the bill arrives.

For a new government, things have gone very well on the international circuit.

As a public relations device, Mr. Trudeau’s post-election message to the world that Canada is back as a “compassionate and constructive voice in the world” was catchy and clever. It clearly differentiated him from Mr. Harper’s mantra, that Canada would no longer “go along and get along with everyone else’s agenda.”

Mr. Trudeau’s multilateral meetings – G20, APEC, the Commonwealth, and then COP21 – went well, and the reviews from foreign chanceries were good, particularly for Canada’s “helpful fixing” during the Paris climate negotiations. At Davos, Mr. Trudeau impressed the plutocrats with his energy and his artful remarks about wanting Canadians to be known as much for our “resourcefulness” as our resources, although it is our resources that pay the bills.

From flattering profiles in Vogue and on 60 Minutes to the accolade of APEC “hottie,” no Canadian leader has enjoyed this kind of attention since Pierre Trudeau.

Justin Trudeau’s celebrity status will fade. If he wants to leave a legacy, he needs creative initiatives buttressed by solid investments in defence, development and diplomacy. As his friend Barack Obama will tell him, the sands of time run quickly.

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China Free Trade Deal?

China open to historic free-trade deal with Canada under certain provisos

China sent its Vice-Minister of Financial and Economic Affairs to Ottawa this week for discussions with senior bureaucrats about the prospect of negotiating its first free-trade deal with any North American country.

The visit comes months before the Prime Minister is expected to lead a trade mission to China and India, with a particular focus on opening wide-ranging free-trade talks with Beijing.

“During the term of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau there are rare, historical opportunities between China and Canada,” Han Jun told The Globe and Mail.

He said a free-trade agreement would be good for both Canada and China.

“What is China most in need of? We have a shortage of agricultural products. China is the biggest importer of agricultural products in the world and, also, we are one of the countries with the highest dependency on imported energy from other countries,” Mr. Han said.

“If there is an FTA arrangement between China and Canada, you can see a flooding of potash, agricultural products and energy products from Canada to the market of China.”

China is rapidly developing an urban middle class of consumers with a taste for fish, wine, pork and other goods produced in Canada. Canadian seafood exports to China alone jumped by 16.2 per cent between 2012 and 2013. Demand will only increase, as the Chinese middle class is projected to reach to 854 million by 2030.

The Canada China Business Council estimates a free-trade pact could boost Canadian exports by $7.7-billion by 2030 and create an additional 25,000 Canadian jobs.

However, Mr. Han said China will come to the table with its own demands, namely the removal of restrictions put in place by the former Conservative government on Chinese state-owned investments in Canada’s oil and gas sector.

“Highly concerned about this,” Mr. Han said. “I felt we were being discriminated in the process.”

Tentative trade talks with the Harper government collapsed almost overnight when Ottawa imposed stricter investment rules in 2012 after China National Offshore Oil Corp. agreed to purchase Nexen Inc. for $15-billion.

“The Chinese felt that we changed the rules for special state-owned enterprises. They feel the rules that have been imposed are very difficult. They would like a re-examination of that,” said Colin Robertson, a senior fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

China had also opened talks with the Harper government on a maritime energy corridor, which Mr. Han said is still a priority for his government.

“They would like to buy our Canadian oil and gas, but they can’t get it there because they don’t have the pipeline,” Mr. Robertson said. “Basically, they want us to get pipelines, as do the Japanese and Indians, to the coast so they can get access to oil and gas.”

The Chinese desire for a pipeline may prove impossible to achieve. The new Liberal government effectively killed the Northern Gateway pipeline when it banned all crude-oil tanker traffic on the North Coast of British Columbia, while the B.C. government has refused to support the $6.8-billion expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. The leading contender now is Energy East, which would deliver oil from Western Canada to refineries and port terminals in New Brunswick and possibly Quebec, but it is years away from regulatory approval.

Canada has a huge trade imbalance with China. Total bilateral trade was $63-billion in the first nine months of last year, but nearly $49-billion of that came from Chinese imports.

In an earlier presentation to Borden Ladner Gervais law firm, Mr. Han said China will be in the market for Canadian green technology to help cut carbon emissions. In 2014, China spent $89.5-billion on clean energy.

Mr. Han also offered assurances that the market turmoil in China and slower economic growth do not indicate that the economy is in trouble. He noted the economy is still forecast to grow at 6.5 per cent, much faster than growth rates in the United States.

“So you don’t need to worry that China’s economy will slide over the cliff,” he said.

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Canada China Track Two Talks

More than a year later, Canada-China ‘track two’ talks yet to begin

Trade dialogue, promised after Harper visit in November 2014, has yet to materialize.

Chinese Embassy Photo
Chinese Ambassador Luo Zhaohui meets Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion.

Peter Mazereeuw
Published: Wednesday, 01/13/2016 12:00 am EST

The government of Canada has yet to act on a 2014 promise to establish a panel of business and non-government groups to hold talks with Chinese counterparts on closer trade, according to Global Affairs Canada.

With the election behind it, the new Liberal government should move ahead with the so-called “track two” talks to help it prepare to negotiate with China for some form of closer trade, said a former Canadian diplomat and the head of the Canada China Business Council.

Progress on establishing the talks had been “quite slow,” Chinese Ambassador Luo Zhaohui told Embassy in November 2015. The embassy affirmed its support for advancing the dialogue in a Jan. 8 emailed statement.

Non-government talks promised to address trade, maritime energy

Canada’s government announced it would establish a joint panel with China, including representatives of the business community, after former prime minister Stephen Harper met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing in November 2014. The panel would “actively explore the way to deepen bilateral cooperation in areas such as trade and economic relations.”

The two sides also agreed to establish a “track two dialogue to study new approaches to enhance energy trade, including potentially an environmentally safe maritime energy corridor,” according to a November 2014 government press release.

“Track two” talks are typically initiated by governments but conducted between business, academic or other non-government groups.

However, the track two dialogue on trade “has not been established,” Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Diana Khaddaj wrote in an emailed statement, adding the government was “considering next steps.”

Natural Resources Canada did not respond by deadline Tuesday when asked whether the study on a maritime energy corridor had been begun.

The former Conservative government shied away from an offer by China to engage in free trade talks, but did negotiate what would become a controversial foreign investment agreement.

The new Liberal government has signalled a more open approach to trade talks with China, tasking Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland to focus on expanding trade with the country as part of her official mandate.

China still hoping to launch FTA negotiations: Embassy

China still supports track two talks on free trade, and hopes to launch free trade negotiations soon, according to an emailed statement from Yang Yundong, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Canada.

“Strengthening the China-Canada Track II Dialogue to explore and identify new areas and ways of deeper China-Canada bilateral trade and economic co-operation is a consensus between leaders of our two countries,” wrote Mr. Yang.

“Given the sound momentum in China-Canada relations, we hope the two sides will build on the opportunity to launch the process of FTA negotiations at an earlier date,” wrote Mr. Yang.

Dion meets with Chinese ambassador

Mr. Luo and staff at the Chinese Embassy met with Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion on Jan. 7 to discuss relations between the two countries, according to a post on the Chinese Embassy website.

Mr. Dion’s chief of staff, Julian Ovens, and policy advisor, Pascale Massot, also attended the meeting, as did Graham Shantz, director general of Global Affairs Canada’s trade and diplomacy for North Asia division, the post says.

The Liberal government may choose to rebrand the track two talks under a new name as part of its effort to reinvigorate Canada-China relations and put its own stamp on foreign policy, said Sarah Kutulakos, executive director of the Canada China Business Council, and Colin Robertson, a vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and former Canadian diplomat.

China’s government has established similar discussions with other countries as well, said Ms. Kutulakos.

“It’s actually a quite useful way to leverage the capabilities of many of their former officials who have reached retirement age, and then often go to work for think tanks,” she said.

Canada’s government should establish a track two panel as part of its preparations to negotiate closer trade ties with China, said Mr. Robertson. 

Canada has options besides full-fledged free trade negotiations, said Ms. Kutulakos. While those deals can take years to negotiate—about 10 years in the case of the China-Australia deal—smaller agreements can help to boost trade over the shorter term. The agreement to facilitate the export of British Columbia blueberries to China, announced in June, is one example of how that can work, she said.

The CCBC is set to release a report on the prospects of Canada-China free trade. The study was put together with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Wilson Center.

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Central Asia

Central Asia ripe for some Canadian know-how

Set high on the northern steppes, Astana owes its inspiration and creation to Kazakhstan’s first (and only) President, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Bayterek Tower, Astana’s crowning glory, looks like a champagne flute topped by a golden cherry. It was supposedly sketched by Mr. Nazarbayev on a cocktail napkin. The profits from energy resources underwrite Kazakhstan and the headquarters of KazMunaiGaz, the national oil and gas company, is big and bold. Mr. Nazarbayev’s personal library, designed by Norman Foster, resembles a half cantaloupe.

Mr. Nazarbayev, 75, successfully transited from apparatchik to Kazakhstan’s founding father after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In April, he resoundingly won another five-year term.

When Mr. Nazarbayev moved the Kazakh capital in 1997 from Almaty to Astana, formerly the site of a notorious Soviet gulag, it supplanted Ottawa as the second coldest capital in the world. (Mongolia’s Ulan Bator is even colder.)

The President’s multivector foreign policy balances between competing spheres of influence – Russia, China, the European Union, the United States – while pursuing an independent course. Kazakhstan was the first former Soviet state to chair the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and last month it joined the World Trade Organization.

Kazakhstan is linked to Russia through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (1992) and the Eurasian Economic Union (2015).

China’s Xi Jingping announced his One Road, One Belt strategy (2013) in Astana and Chinese goods travel by rail through Kazakhstan to Europe. Kazakh oil flows by pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Xinjiang.

The European Union accounts for half of Kazak trade and foreign investment, bolstered Monday with the signature of an enhanced trade and security partnership agreement.

Since 2003, annual Steppe Eagle military exercises are held with the U.S. and other NATO nations and last month, in describing the American New Silk Road Initiative, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told students at Nazarbayev University that America’s stake in Central Asia “extends far beyond security.”

Central Asian border issues hamper closer regional co-operation. The Kazakh-Russian border is longer than the Canada-U.S. 49th parallel. Kazakhstan, the biggest of the ‘stans,’ is roughly the size of Ontario and Quebec.

Canada could work with Kazakhstan and the other Central Asian republics – Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan – focusing on trade, governance, water management and nuclear safety.

Kazakhstan is a priority market for Canada and, with major investments in mining and oil and gas, an investment agreement is under negotiation.

The Transparency International index and Amnesty International’s reporting consider that corruption is a problem in Central Asia. Canada could usefully share its experience and expertise on accountability, transparency and good governance.

Transboundary water problems, notably the rapidly diminishing Aral Sea, date back to Soviet times and diversions around construction of hydro dams and irrigation of cotton plantations. Lessons can be shared from the Canadian-American boundary waters’ experience and our century-old International Joint Commission.

Kazakhstan is the biggest supplier of uranium, with Canada’s Cameco actively engaged in Kazak operations. Together, Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia provide two-thirds of the world supply. Building on our recent nuclear co-operation agreement, could we not work together in the development of a nuclear fuel bank for peaceful uses and in the management of nuclear waste?

For forty years, northern Kazakhstan was the site of 456 Soviet nuclear weapons tests, polluting an area the size of Germany. An estimated 1.5 million Kazakhs suffer radiation-related illness.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan voluntarily rid itself of nuclear weapons and signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation and the Comprehensive Test Ban treaties. Mr. Nazarbeyev launched Project ATOM (Abolish Testing is our Mission) to promote nuclear disarmament and end nuclear testing. Kazakhstan led the effort that earlier this month led to the passing of the Declaration on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World at the UN General Assembly. These are goals shared by the Canadian-inspired Pugwash conferences.

As the gateway for invaders east and west since the time of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, the 61 million people who live in Central Asia are a remarkable mixture of ethnicities, tribes, religions and languages.

Once again, there is renewed great-power jockeying for influence within Central Asia. The history, climate and geography of the region are harsh and unforgiving. Their governments are authoritarian and characterized by eccentricity. Their peoples might want more freedom and liberty but peace, security and order are their first priorities.

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