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Chinese premier envisages FTA with Canada

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

09-24-2016 12:36 BJT

Full coverage: Premier Li Attends UN Conferences, Visits Canada and Cuba

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MONTREAL, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Friday that his country is willing to open free trade talks with Canada as a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) will benefit both sides.

"Signing an FTA with Canada will be a challenge for China as it will have to bear greater pressure than the developed countries," Li said at a business forum also attended by his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau.

"However, China is willing to engage in FTA talks with Canada to press the low-end domestic enterprises to move up the ladder," added the Chinese premier, who traveled to Montreal after a tightly-scheduled stay in Ottawa.

Canada is the first Group of Seven economy that China is seeking an FTA with. During their Thursday talks in Ottawa, he and Trudeau agreed to boost trade and economic ties and push for progress in FTA discussions. The two sides also aim to double bilateral trade by 2025 based on the 2015 level.

"We are willing to make China-Canada relations a leading model for China's ties with major countries in the West," Li told the forum in Montreal.

The premier urged Chinese companies to get prepared for the tough competition from their Canadian counterparts, and learn from the advanced technologies and management of Canadian businesses.

For Canada, the FTA will create more trade opportunities and facilitate joint efforts with China to explore third-party markets, Li added, pointing out that China-Canada cooperation in aviation and railway in developing countries will be highly promising.

"China and Canada, if we combine our respective strengths in equipment production and technology, will be as competitive as the Montreal Canadiens at the Ice Hockey World Championships," said the premier, who visited the famed team before attending the business forum.

Meanwhile, Li reaffirmed that China welcomes Canadian investment and is increasing protection of intellectual property rights, promoting rule of law and ensuring a level playing field.

Li, the first Chinese head of government to visit Canada in 13 years, arrived in Ottawa on Wednesday afternoon, after attending a series of high-level meetings at the United Nations and engaging with a wide spectrum of U.S. society in New York.

His ongoing overseas trip will also take him to Cuba.

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