Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada-China Free Trade Must Benefit Canadian 'Workers', Says New Beijing Envoy

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada-China Free Trade Must Benefit Canadian 'Workers', Says New Beijing Envoy

Article excerpt

Canada-China trade must help 'workers': envoy

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OTTAWA - Canada's Beijing-bound ambassador says the government will have to sell any possible Canada-China free trade to Canadian workers in order to overcome rising anti-trade sentiment.

John McCallum says he's aware of the populist anger towards liberalized trade in the Western world.

While he'd like to see negotiations move forward, McCallum says Canadians will need to see tangible economic benefits -- new jobs, in particular.

McCallum cites tourism as a potential growth sector if Canada can attract even a fraction of the hundreds of millions of Chinese travellers that are estimated to be venturing abroad in the next five years.

His message echoes the hard-hitting speech Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered in Germany last month, telling business leaders to "get real" about the anxieties of workers who fear being left behind by globalization.

McCallum says the consultations the government launched last week will be a key step in determining a way forward on deepening Canada's trade and economic relations with China in a way that is palatable to a large number of Canadians.

"The crucial point will be whether we can persuade the average Canadian or the average Canadian worker whether it's good for him or her," McCallum said in an interview this week.

"We have to understand there's a certain anti-free trade sentiment across the Western world. We are among the few who are actively pursuing free trade, open borders."

Trudeau and his cabinet ministers have stressed the need for politicians to address the "anxieties" of working people amid strengthening populist anti-trade sentiment, evident in Britain's decision to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's victory in the November U.S. presidential election.

There has been plenty of tension between the Trump administration and China. Trump has made provocative statements about Chinese actions in the South China Sea, and angered Beijing by speaking with the leadership of Taiwan. …

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