Canada has high hopes for a trade agreement with China but won't rush into negotiations that could affect their economies for generations to come, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.
On the second day of a visit to Beijing, Trudeau told reporters that Canada was "constantly engaged" on trade issues with China as part of exploratory talks on a trade pact launched two years ago that have tackled issues such as agricultural exports.
Despite hopes that formal talks on an agreement would be announced during Trudeau's visit, it appeared that wasn't going to happen.
"This is something that is an ongoing process that we take very seriously and of course we are going to continue to talk about opportunities to benefit Canadians every moment that we have" in both China and back in Canada, Trudeau said.
Rather than announcing trade talks, Trudeau instead touted an agreement with China on the importance of dealing with climate change and upholding the 2015 Paris agreement, despite President Donald Trump's aim to withdraw the United States from the accord to cap greenhouse gases.
Trudeau met with President Xi Jinping later on Tuesday.
"I'm sure this visit will be a success and inject new vitality into China-Canada relations," Xi told Trudeau.
After meeting with Premier Li Keqiang on Monday, Trudeau said Canada hopes a trade agreement with China will reflect "Canadian values" in the areas of labour rights, environmental protection and gender equality. That approach runs against China's inclination to keep such issues separate and avoid links to human rights or civil liberties.
On Tuesday, he reaffirmed Canada's approach of seeking a durable agreement, despite the lengthy timeframe demanded.
"We are going to work very hard, very responsibly to make sure that as we move forward, we move forward in the right way," he said. "Once we get to the stage of negotiating a trade agreement, that's going to take years as well." (AP)