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Premier Li envisages FTA with Canada

Updated: Sep 24,2016 11:38 AM     Xinhua

MONTREAL — Premier Li Keqiang said here on Sept 23 that his country is willing to open free trade talks with Canada as a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) will benefit both sides.

“Signing an FTA with Canada will be a challenge for China as it will have to bear greater pressure than the developed countries,” Premier Li said at a business forum also attended by his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau.

“However, China is willing to engage in FTA talks with Canada to press the low-end domestic enterprises to move up the ladder,” added the Premier, who traveled to Montreal after a tightly-scheduled stay in Ottawa.

Canada is the first Group of Seven economy that China is seeking an FTA with. During their talks in Ottawa on Sept 22, Premier Li and Trudeau agreed to boost trade and economic ties and push for progress in FTA discussions. The two sides also aim to double bilateral trade by 2025 based on the 2015 level.

“We are willing to make China-Canada relations a leading model for China’s ties with major countries in the West,” Premier Li told the forum in Montreal.

He urged Chinese companies to get prepared for the tough competition from their Canadian counterparts, and learn from the advanced technologies and management of Canadian businesses.

For Canada, the FTA will create more trade opportunities and facilitate joint efforts with China to explore third-party markets, he added, pointing out that China-Canada cooperation in aviation and railway in developing countries will be highly promising.

“China and Canada, if we combine our respective strengths in equipment production and technology, will be as competitive as the Montreal Canadiens at the Ice Hockey World Championships,” said the Premier, who visited the famed team before attending the business forum.

With a bilateral investment treaty already signed, China invites Canadian businesses to invest in China and expand cooperation in such areas as finance, energy, civil aviation, telecommunication, environment protection and winter sports, the Premier said.

He also encouraged Chinese firms to make investment in Canada and participate in cooperation in infrastructure, energy and mining, agriculture, services and other sectors.

“China’s economic growth still takes the lead among major economies and we are capable of realizing the main targets of social and economic development for the whole year and maintaining medium-to-high growth rates,” Premier Li said.

He added that China is working to promote the rule of law in an all-around way, improve laws and regulations, streamline government administration, increase protection of intellectual property rights and ensure a level playing field.

China will open up wider to the world and foster friendly and transparent policies to attract foreign investment, he said, encouraging more Canadian investors to seize the opportunity to deepen cooperation with China to achieve win-win results.

Trudeau, for his part, said Canada and China can promote cooperation through dialogue and work to get bilateral relations on track.

Canada looks forward to deepening the partnership with China so as to yield more fruitful cooperation, added the prime minister, who concluded a weeklong successful visit to China less than three weeks ago.

Premier Li, the first Chinese head of government to visit Canada in 13 years, arrived in Ottawa on Sept 21, after attending a series of high-level meetings at the United Nations and engaging with a wide spectrum of US society in New York.

His ongoing overseas trip will also take him to Cuba.