U.S. President Donald Trump’s retreat from the Paris climate agreement is sure to feature prominently in an upcoming high-profile trade mission to China, the world’s largest carbon polluter, says Canada’s point man on energy.
“No doubt there will be conversations with the Chinese about what that means,” said Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr in an exclusive interview on Friday with National Observer. “I’m sure that that will be a discussion that both the Chinese and our delegation will want to have.”
Carr leads a 48-member delegation to China from June 3 to 10 that includes representatives from businesses and associations in the forestry industry, the oil, gas and clean tech sectors, as well as provincial and territorial governments and Indigenous organizations.
The trade mission originally aimed to participate in two international clean tech summits in Beijing, but has been expanded to include a separate program promoting wood products after the United States hit Canada’s softwood lumber industry with steep tariffs in April.
The trip also comes as the U.S. and Canada gear up to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and comes just days after Trump said he would pull out of the Paris accord to halt dangerous and destructive climate change.
“We think that we’re well-positioned as a nation to do very well in the international competition for clean technology and innovation, and renewable sources of energy,” said Carr.
The Trudeau government seeks to forge stronger ties with other trade partners, especially its second-largest trading partner, China, and is consulting Canadians on the possibility of a free trade agreement.
That has led to buzz around ministerial trips across the Pacific as potential precursors to a free-trade deal. Asked about that, Carr said it’s his job to market Canadian products abroad in any jurisdiction.
“We do this in Europe, we do this in South America, we do this all over the world,” he said.
The federal government is giving the trip a big promotional push, and the delegation is featured in a full-colour publication in Mandarin, English and French. There is a podcast and a video featuring Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum.
In the video, McCallum says China is “now assuming an international leadership role” and “they want to be seen to be doing business with us.”
When asked what McCallum meant by that, Carr said it meant that “Canada is seen as a reliable partner internationally.”
“We’ve got a good public policy environment, we’ve got an excellent relationship with industry and with unions, and there are partnerships right across Canada that are likely the envy of the world,” he said.
McCallum wasn’t available for an interview, said Canada’s foreign affairs department.