The G20 summit took place in Hangzhou, China this year. While some world leaders were getting into tussles about where to park their planes, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was making deals. Trudeau came home with approximately $1.2 billion in trade deals with the G20 host nation,
“We can be a great partner for China but our government is taking our time. We believe a deep and effective economic relationship with China needs to be built consistently, thoughtfully, carefully,” said Canadian trade minister Chrystia Freeland.
While the trade deals reached involve companies in areas ranging from clean technologies to sea food, the real focus has been on canola imports, said Freeland. A deal made at the last minute put a delay on stricter rules on the products, something Freeland says is important for Canada and will hopefully prevent rising costs for exporters.
While China would like to see a free-trade agreement with Canada, labour and environmental concerns are getting in the way. The Canadian Coalition for human rights in China said in an open letter, “We believe that this is a critical time for a renewed approach to human rights in the Canada/China relationship.” The letter, posted through Amnesty International, listed human rights violations ranging from prisoners of conscious held for political or religious views, to torture, to The situation for Tibetans and Uighurs, among other concerns.
Trudeau confronted China’s business community about the country’s human rights record, saying, “I remind everyone that as a country that has seen the benefits first hand of free expression and good governance, Canada encourages China to do more to promote and protect human rights,” he said. “I know these are not easy conversations to have but they are necessary ones.”
To the Chinese business community, he said “Gentlemen, it’s 2016,” and encouraged the inclusion of more women in prominent business positions. Trudeau also met with a group of entrepreneurial women and said the strength of any society depends on the full participation of all its citizens.