Trudeau won’t begin free trade talks during China visit next week: officials

OTTAWA — Government officials say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has no plans to launch free trade talks when he visits China next week.

The officials are briefing journalists on the four-day trip to China that will included a meeting Monday with Chinese Premier Xi Jingang.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, say the focus of the trip will be deepening economic ties and attracting more Chinese investment to Canada and will include meetings with senior Canadian and Chinese executives.

China is anxious to start formal free trade talks after several rounds of exploratory discussions, but Canada is still assessing its position, officials say.

The government recently released the results of consultations with more than 600 businesses, academics and civil society groups.

Some of those surveyed said a pact with China could kill Canadian jobs, including in manufacturing, and reduce the ability to compete against lax labour standards, lower environmental requirements and Chinese state subsidies.

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