Canadian opposition leader displays faulty logic and blindness to huge FTA benefits

By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/26 22:03:39

Canada's Liberal government is in exploratory talks with China over possible negotiations on a free trade deal, but the country's opposition Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer said in a recent interview that he would not hold free trade talks with China if his party was in government, citing concerns about human rights, labor standards and the environment. The opposition leader's statement shows nothing but his arrogant and biased attitude toward China.

"There are so many concerns with the Chinese government - their human rights record, the way their economy works. We don't want to see Canadian manufacturers, Canadian workers put on a completely uneven playing field," Scheer said, according to a Global News report on Sunday. He also mentioned that the differences in the two countries' labor standards would put many Canadian companies at a huge disadvantage to Chinese competition under a free trade deal.

Scheer's logic is beguiling but wrong. As Canada is a developed country and China is a developing one, inevitably there are differences between the two economies in terms of economic structure, State-owned companies, labor standards and other aspects. But the essence of a free trade agreement (FTA), which countries sign to lower trade barriers so as to further complement each other's advantages in trade relations, should not be overlooked.

China has already signed FTAs with several developed countries like New Zealand and Australia. The China-New Zealand FTA has allowed New Zealand's trade with China to nearly triple over the past decade. Meanwhile, since the signing of the China-Australia FTA at the end of 2015, China's outbound direct investment into Australia soared 56.1 percent year-on-year in 2016.

Canada would become another developed country to ink a free trade deal with China if negotiations between the two governments are successful. A China-Canada FTA would increase Canada's GDP by 7.8 billion Canadian dollars ($5.9 billion), boost its exports by 7.7 billion Canadian dollars and add 25,000 jobs by 2030, according to a 2016 white paper released by the Canada-China Business Council and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

But if Canada requires a potential FTA partner country to have the same ideology and labor standards as itself, then it should probably only look at Western countries. Few developing countries could meet Mr Scheer's standards for a level playing field.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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