Canada Shelves Free Trade Negotiations With China - Foreign Minister

Canada Shelves Free Trade Negotiations With China - Foreign Minister

Canada is abandoning free trade negotiations with China amid a host of disagreements on a range of topics, Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in an interview on Friday

TORONTO (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 19th September, 2020) Canada is abandoning free trade negotiations with China amid a host of disagreements on a range of topics, Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in an interview on Friday.

"I don't see the conditions being present now for these discussions to continue at this time," Champagne said about trade negotiations as quoted by The Globe and Mail. "The China of 2020 is not the China of 2016."

Canada's top diplomat said that Ottawa will review its policy towards Beijing and will do so through the "lens of China of 2020."

The comments mark a major policy shift towards China that brings Canada more in line with the hardline posture adopted by the United States, Australia, and parts of the European Union.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office in 2015, his government signaled an interest in fostering deeper economic ties between the two nations.

Trudeau visited Beijing in 2016 and soon after discussions began about a possible free trade agreement.

Subsequently, Canadian and Chinese delegations charged with the negotiations met three times throughout 2017.

Sino-Canadian relations soured after Canadian authorities detained Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in 2018 at the request of the United States, which was followed by the arrests of two Canadian nationals on charges of espionage in China.

The tense relationship has been further exacerbated by Canada's condemnation of the newly enacted Chinese law on national security in Hong Kong and a suspension of some bilateral agreements with the special administrative region. Beijing has said that it reserves the right to respond to any interference on Canada's part, and the Canadian side will be held accountable for all the consequences.

Despite the tensions, China remains Canada's second largest trading partner after the United States.