Canadian exports to China rise strongly, unaffected by human rights emphasis

The Canadian Press

BEIJING – Canadian exports to China grew strongly last year despite Ottawa’s
increased focus on human rights, Canada’s trade minister said Monday.

Exports rose about 27 per cent according to preliminary figures,
International Trade Minister David Emerson said following a ceremony to open
a new commercial annex at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing.

"We’re starting to the turn the corner. It’s not where you want it to
but you’ve got to start somewhere," Emerson said, referring to Canada’s

substantial trade deficit with China.

Emerson said there have been no signs of Chinese retaliation against
Canadian business following a recent meeting between Prime Minister Stephen
Harper and the Dalai Lama – the first time a Canadian prime minister has met
with the Dalai Lama at federal government offices.

China reviles the exiled Tibetan leader as a separatist bent on ending
Chinese rule there.

Similar meetings between the Dalai Lama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
and U.S. President George W. Bush have drawn political and economic retaliation
from Beijing.

However, asked if the October meeting had resulted in specific Chinese
threats against Canadian business, Emerson said: "None that have been
directed at me."

"They’ve been outspoken about that," Emerson said in acknowledging
China’s irritation over Harper’s meeting with the Dalai Lama.

"(But) I do not believe that it will fundamentally derail the relationship,"

said Emerson, speaking at the beginning of a trade mission to China,
Mongolia and Hong Kong that winds up Jan. 11.

Canada recorded a $26.8-billion trade deficit with China in 2006 against an
overall trade surplus of $43.6 billion.

"We are of the view that Canada has underperformed over the last 10-15
years in terms of trade with China and our export performance in particular,"
Emerson said.

He said Canada hoped to improve the trade balance with China with agreements
boosting air transport, tourism and investment.

Emerson plans to visit Mongolia later this week, where mining companies have
made Canada the second-largest foreign investor.

Emerson is accompanied on the trip by James Moore, parliamentary secretary
for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics.

The trip is aimed at providing an opportunity for Canadian companies to
pursue trade and investment opportunities in Asia, particularly in the air
services field.

Posting date: 08/Jan/2008
Original article date: 08/Jan/2008
Category: Media Reports



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