What we heard
Public Consultations on a possible Canada-China free trade agreement
Between March 4 and June 2, 2017, the Government of Canada conducted public consultations to solicit the views of Canadians on a possible Canada-China free trade agreement (FTA). The views of Canadians were collected in a number of ways, including through in-person meetings and teleconferences with Canadian stakeholders, and through the publication of a Canada Gazette notice and dedicated consultation website inviting Canadians to submit their views. Since March 4, 2017, Government officials interacted with over 600 stakeholders and partners and received over 130 submissions from Canadians.
In keeping with the Government of Canada’s commitment to transparency, this report aims to provide a summary of the views that were conveyed by Canadians during this official consultation period. Despite the conclusion of this official consultation period, the Government of Canada remains committed to hearing from Canadians on this important subject and will ensure that Canadians continue to have the opportunity to provide their views as we engage with China.
Send your submission or any questions by email: ChinaTradeConsultations/ConsultationscommerceChineTCA@international.gc.ca
How the government is exploring potential FTA negotiations with China
On September 22, 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li announced the launch of exploratory discussions to examine the prospects for a possible Canada-China FTA. Work on the exploratory discussions has been ongoing since the fall of 2016 with four sets of face-to-face meetings held to date in 2017: February 20 to 24 in Beijing; April 24 to 28 in Ottawa; July 31 to August 4 in Beijing, and September 12-13, in Ottawa.
Who we consulted
Public consultations on a possible Canada-China FTA were comprehensive, involving interactions with over 600 stakeholders and partners across Canada, covering a broad range of sectors and interests. Working in collaboration with the provincial and territorial governments, federal officials conducted face-to-face consultations in all ten provinces as well as the Northwest Territories. Federal officials also conducted teleconferences with stakeholders and officials from Yukon, Nunavut, and across the country. In total, the Government conducted over 70 plenary roundtables and workshops, and over 130 meetings with individual stakeholders. In addition, since March 4, 2017, the Government also received over 130 written submissions through the Canada Gazette process and the web forms contained on the dedicated “Consulting Canadians on a possible Canada-China FTA” website.
Methods of consultation (percentages)
- Call (7.24%)
- Meeting (37.05%)
- Roundtable (19.78%)
- Workshop (0.84%)
- Canada Gazette (24.23%)
- Website Submission (10.86%)
Stakeholders consulted (percentages)
- Business (80.85%)
- Non-business (13.16%)
- Indigenous (1.88%)
- Individuals (4.10%)
Consultations across Canada
What we heard from stakeholders
As whole, Canadians told us that they see both opportunities and challenges associated with a possible Canada-China FTA. Canadians recognize the significant opportunities for Canadian businesses and consumers offered by the Chinese market, and the importance of China for the future of the global economy. Whether in supplying China’s appetite for high-quality agricultural products and natural resources, making inroads into its massive government procurement market, or leveraging China as a source of, and destination for, foreign direct investment, many Canadians told us that they see real opportunities in deepening Canada’s trade relationship with the world’s second largest economy.
While a range of the difficulties identified by Canadians, like tariffs, permitting issues, establishment requirements, and customs procedures could be mitigated or resolved by a possible FTA, Canadians also told us about concerns that are more difficult to resolve using a traditional approach to free trade agreements. These concerns included challenges arising from the nature of China’s state-run economy; the interplay between trade and China’s human rights, environmental and labour rights records; and the inconsistent rule of law in China, especially in relation to the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
Key themes / overview of consultations
Non-FTA specific feedback from Canadians
Although our conversations with Canadians in the context of public consultations were primarily focused on issues that would constitute part of a potential FTA, stakeholders also told us about a range of issues related to doing business with China that fall outside the traditional scope of FTA negotiations. Stakeholders also took the opportunity of the consultations to express views on some key domestic policy issues which the Government will need to consider as Canada deepens its economic relations with China, including land use, support for Canadian companies wishing to understand the Chinese market, and the need for improvements to Canadian logistics and transport infrastructure.
Following the conclusion of FTA exploratory discussions, the governments of Canada and China will separately decide whether they wish to proceed with FTA negotiations. For Canada, any decision on whether to launch FTA negotiations with China will take into account the results of the exploratory discussions, ongoing and past internal analysis, and the feedback we received from Canadians throughout consultations. This assessment will ultimately be rooted in a determination of whether an FTA with China serves the best interests of Canadians.
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