Sask. politicians blame Trudeau for China trade failure

By Nigel Maxwell
December 7, 2017 - 12:00pm

Prince Albert's member of parliament and Saskatchewan's agriculture minister are laying blame over the Canada-China free trade break-down squarely on the shoulders of the Prime Minister.

Talks this week between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping broke down after China took issue with Trudeau's proposed social reforms. Saskatchewan farmers stand to gain a lot if a deal can be reached, as it would increase exports from the province substantially.

Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback said he was not surprised by the results.

"When you look at [Trudeau] and his trade policies and his success on trade, it's really bad, and the impact it will have on our economy in Saskatchewan especially will be in the billions of dollars," he said.

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart echoed Hoback’s concerns and believed Trudeau was mistaken thinking some of his social concerns could be included in a trade deal with China.

"You know that's been tried before with China and it's not going to happen," Stewart said, adding he believed a free deal was still a possibility if the social reforms can be kept out of it.  

"They are already our second largest export market, and we are subject to the high tariffs some of our competitors are not," he said.

Some of Saskatchewan's main exports to China include grains, beef and pork. The province already counts China as its second largest export market, but is subject to high tariffs where other competitors are not. Stewart said there will always be sensitivities in the trade talks, but adds both sides have to be flexible.

"We have ours too as a province. China often wants to purchase farm land and produce food for China, but that's not the way we do business here," Stewart said.

The Prime Minister is now back home in Canada and is scheduled to be in North Battleford on Thursday.


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