Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Report Says China as Unfair Trade Partner 'Simplistic,' Urges More Involvement: China Not the Trade Hot It Seems: Report

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Report Says China as Unfair Trade Partner 'Simplistic,' Urges More Involvement: China Not the Trade Hot It Seems: Report

Article excerpt

OTTAWA - A new report on the emergence of China as a global engine of growth suggests Western countries like Canada had better get on board -- and that the perils are less than critics maintain.

The report by former Canadian trade official Michael Hart for the Canadian Council of Chief Executives does not closely examine the prospect of a free trade deal with the world's second biggest economy.

But it argues forcefully that Canadians -- not just individual firms, but the economy overall -- stand to be a big winner in improving economic ties.

Hart's findings, which are to be released Thursday, come on the heels Prime Minister Stephen Harper's trade mission to China where he inked an investment protection agreement, several sectoral deals and was told China was prepared to begin exploratory talks on a full-fledged trade deal.

The report concedes that China's emergence is a threat to some firms and workers, particularly in the manufacturing sector, but it maintains that Canada has also made gains and cannot allow itself to miss out on the emergence of Asia in the global economy.

"On balance, a prosperous China is in Canada's ... political and economic interests and, while it may have short-term negative effects on individual firms and workers, the long-term impact on the prosperity of Canadians should be positive," the report states.

Hart, who is currently chair of trade policy at the Norman Paterson School at Carleton University, calls it "simplistic and misleading" to blame China for the loss of corporations and outsourcing of jobs. The shift of lower-paying assembly jobs has enabled domestic manufacturers to become more productive and competitive, he says.

Even without moving the economic relationship to another level, as Harper pledged to do, China is already becoming a big factor in Canada's economy.

While trade with the U. …

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