Canada’s Fast Says China Must Show Ambition to Join Trade Talks

Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast said China should be prepared to drop trade barriers if it hopes to join World Trade Organization talks on liberalizing cross-border services.

Canada is among 23 WTO-member countries negotiating a so-called trade-in-services agreement as part of global trade talks started in Doha, Qatar in 2001.

“We evaluate each partner as they express an interest,” Fast said today in an interview in Singapore, when asked about the prospect of China joining the talks. Fast declined to speculate about whether China would join the talks. “We’ll have discussions with them and determine what their level of ambition is and then make a decision collectively as a group.”

The countries negotiating the services deal “strongly believe eliminating trade barriers in the trade of services is highly desirable and we’re making good progress,” he said.

China told TISA participants in a letter circulated Sept. 29 that it promised to participate in the negotiations “positively, constructively and equally” and that it looked forward to participating in the next round of talks Nov. 4-8, Bloomberg BNA reported this week.

Canada and China signed an agreement last year to protect foreign investors. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said last year his government would complete existing free-trade negotiations before pursuing agreements with other countries. Canada isn’t negotiating a free-trade deal with China.