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No free trade deal during Trudeau’s China trip

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Staff Writer | December 5, 2017
What was supposed to be a furthering of free trade talks did not materialize Monday on the first day of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s four-day visit to China.
Trudeau Keqiang
Trade talks   Trans Pacific Partnership
Trudeau met privately with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and longer than expected at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Pundits were predicting a joint statement after the meeting on how free trade talks went - the two countries representatives met four times previously to discuss a trade deal - but the leaders did not deliver the goods.

A news conference was canceled on short notice by the Chinese, officials at Trudeau’s office told Canadian media.

The Canadian prime minister, however, mentioned the subject during a ceremony where he and Li read from statements.

“I’m pleased we will continue exploratory discussions towards a comprehensive trade agreement between Canada and China,” Trudeau said. “Both sides share the view that due to different national circumstances, it’s only natural that we don’t see eye-to-eye on some issues.”

Those differences revolve around strict human rights and environmental and labor protection, key issues Trudeau insisted be part of any free trade agreement.

The failure to include those issues in the Trans Pacific Partnership is the main reason Trudeau did not sign onto that 11-country deal during a summit in November.

But Li did not close the door on a deal with Canada.