Premier Li Keqiang (L, back) and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau (R, back) attend the signing ceremony of a series of bilateral cooperation documents in Ottawa, Canada, Sept. 22, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
OTTAWA — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the visiting Premier Li Keqiang witnessed here on Sept 22 the inking of 14 cooperation agreements, which observers believe will push bilateral economic cooperation to a new stage.
Among the 14 agreements covering a wide span of fields such as trade, investment, finance, tourism, education and judiciary, economic cooperation is surely a high priority and closer economic ties are regarded as the common concern of the two countries.
An improving Sino-Canadian relationship is the strong support for closer economic ties. Trudeau, in pursuit of a friendly attitude toward China, visited the Asian country last month. Premier Li’s trip to Canada, the Chinese premier’s first official visit to the country in 13 years, was viewed as reciprocal.
“We are willing to make China-Canada relations a leading model for China’s ties with major countries in the West,” Premier Li told a forum in Montreal during his tightly-scheduled trip.
Moreover, analysts pointed out that the economies between China and Canada are highly complementary, and the bilateral economic cooperation is mutually beneficiary.
China stands to be Canada’s second largest trading partner and enjoys an admiringly high economic growth rate, while Canada is struggling with a tepid economic growth rate and upward trend of world trade protectionism.
In the field of bilateral trade, China-Canada’s trade volume reached $55.7 billion in 2015, on which base the two aim to double by 2025.
China also ranks the second in terms of Canada’s global export market and source of imports. They reached consensus to explore together the huge potential in the industries of high-tech, agriculture, energy resources as well as the Third-Party Markets.
As the world’s second largest country, Canada homes a comparatively small population of some 30 million. In comparison, China is the world’s most populous country with less than 10 percent of the world’s arable land, which spells the necessity of agricultural cooperation.
The two decided to “expand market access to Canadian bone-in beef and to advance several key initiatives to support the trade of Canadian beef and pork, bovine genetics, Chinese pears and filled grain products,” said a joint statement issued by the two sides on Sept 23.
Concerning the Third-Party Markets, China and Canada agreed to enhance cooperation to encourage and support enterprises of both countries to pursue economic development opportunities in third-party markets, which certainly will enlarge the spectrum of cooperative chances between Beijing and Ottawa.
Premier Li also announced during his visit China’s willingness to kick off talks on a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Canada, making the North American country the first Group of Seven economy that China is seeking an FTA with.
On the other side, Canada’s decision to apply for membership at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was applauded as one of the major achievements of Trudeau’s visit to China. The membership in the China-initiated bank, as it was believed by Canadian politicians and researchers, would not only promote the economic development of the maple country, but also helps them explore business opportunities in the entire Asia.
To guarantee the healthy growth of bilateral cooperation, the two countries also agreed to bring into full play, among others, the High-Level National Security and Rule of Law Dialogue, the Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue and the Annual Dialogue between the Premier of China and the Prime Minister of Canada.
Those in the economic sectors in Canada have hailed the bright prospects of Sino-Canada economic ties.
Drew Stuart Dorweiler, managing director at Dartmouth Partners, stressed the fact that both Premier Li and Trudeau want to embark on this type of project (FTA), because it’s “fantastic.”
Rainer Bollhorn, partner of Gibson Canadian & Global, noted that “for companies in Canada which are thinking about investing in China, it will be good, because the only way to go is to have a level playing field,” adding that “China is making a big effort to open up to the world.”