China and Canada have agreed to strengthen their ties in economic, trade and other fields, and to begin exploratory talks for a potential free trade agreement, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang
said on Thursday during a meeting with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (center) and his wife Cheng Hong, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (second from right) and his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau wave to photographers before the state dinner at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec, on Thursday (Canadian time). Photo: AFP
Li arrived in Ottawa on Wednesday. His visit to Canada is the first by a Chinese premier in 13 years.
"We have reached many new consensuses in economic and trade areas," said Li, adding that China is willing to import frozen beef from Canada and the two sides have reached an agreement on Canada's canola exports to China.
Li said that the two sides discussed cooperation in finance, tourism and law enforcement, as well as between their local governments.
The two countries signed an agreement on the sharing and return of forfeited assets, a joint statement on cooperation in third-party markets, a protocol for frozen beef to be exported from Canada to China, an arrangement in cooperation in combating crimes, and an arrangement for enhanced cooperation in tourism.
"Among the 14 bilateral cooperation documents, the agreement on the sharing and return of forfeited assets is remarkably significant at this time, when Sino-Canadian trade has long been the major area of cooperation in bilateral ties," Tang Xiaosong, director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, told the Global Times.
"As China has attached great importance to deepening cooperation with the international community to fight corruption, Trudeau showed his willingness to respond to China's grave concerns in a bid to change the hard-line stance his predecessor Stephen Harper took against China," Tang said.
The US and Canada reportedly house two-thirds of the top 100 fugitives China is seeking, and have yet to sign extradition treaties with China. Despite years of prudence from both sides on the issue, the agreement signed by Li and Trudeau set a consensus to handle future cases and a framework to step closer to formulating an extradition treaty, Tang explained.Economic collaboration
"We have decided to strengthen exchanges in all levels and in multiple mechanisms. We have agreed to establish a high-level financial dialogue mechanism," Li said.
Li said on August 30 during his meeting with Trudeau in Beijing that China and Canada have agreed to launch a feasibility study on a China-Canada free trade area as early as possible.
China is Canada's second-largest single-country trade partner, according to statistics from the Canadian government.
Two-way goods trade between Canada and China amounted to nearly $85.8 billion in 2015, a 10.1 percent increase from 2014, and accounted for 8.1 percent of Canada's total goods trade.
In addition, China and Canada have agreed to explore third-party markets jointly.
Tang said that the cooperation is likely to center on nuclear energy.
"China provides capital while Canada boasts advance nuclear technology, following suit of a deal between China and France on the construction of the Hinkley Point nuclear plant in the UK," Tang noted.
During Li's meeting with Canadian Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall, the governor general's official residence, Johnston spoke highly of the new progress made in bilateral cooperation during Li's official visit, saying it helps open a new chapter in bilateral ties.