James Moore, member of NAFTA’s advisory council and former conservative Cabinet minister warned the federal government that engaging with the Chinese on free trade talks could possibly jeopardize Canada’s relationship with the U.S following a panel discussion regarding NAFTA in Ottawa.
Moore stated “Canada runs the risk of providing Donald Trump with an argument to say that Canada can’t be trusted” because of the cheap Chinese goods that Canada will have that would contravene labour requirements. He further urged Ottawa to put plans with Beijing on a standstill till NAFTA was “put to bed”.
Moore found this situation as a deep crisis, reiterating the importance of positive relations between Canada and the U.S. He stated that 1 in 5 Canadian jobs depend on trade with the U.S. which should not be tampered by telling the U.S. of an imminent free trade agreement with China adding that this is a “huge risk that Canada should not take”.
There have been a total of 4 rounds of free trade tentative talks between Canada and China to test the waters. The Liberal Government has not passed any judgement on the success of these talks and whether they wish to proceed with any formal free trade talks with China. This remains an issue for Moore who claims President Trump has made his “antagonistic view of China” quite apparent.
Amidst this escalating tension, government officials have stated that formal talks with china would move slowly and this process would take a long time.
On the other hand, Canada’s foreign affair minister Chrystia Freeland shrugged off Moore’s concerns stating “trade diversification is extremely important to us”.
While liberals try to assuage fears of free-trade talks with China, Moore maintains that this would give President Trump the pass to hurl verbal attacks at both Canada and NAFTA.