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China in Canada's sights as cross-country trade consultations end (2)

By hristopher Guly (Xinhua)

11:05, August 29, 2012

Last year, two-way merchandise trade reached nearly 65 billion Canadian dollars, and Canadian exports to China rose by 27 percent from 2010, while Canadian imports from China increased by 8 percent.

China now ranks as Canada's third largest merchandise export market, after the U.S. and the United Kingdom, with Canadian merchandise exports to China rising by 77 percent over the past five years a rate more than 50 percent greater than to each of Canada's other top four trading partners.

Canada sells China more softwood lumber from the province of British Columbia than it does to the U.S., Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told an Ottawa business audience Tuesday at the conclusion of the Global Commerce Strategy consultations.

While he deferred to his ministerial colleagues in industry and trade as to the possibility of a Canada-China free trade agreement, Baird, who visited China four times in the last year, praised the signing in July of a supplementary protocol to the 1994 Canada- China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement that will help Canadian uranium companies increase their exports to China.

He added that Canada is keen to get the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement signed after it was agreed to in principle during Harper's visit to Beijing in February.

At the end of 2010, Chinese foreign direct investment into Canada reached approximately 14 billion Canadian dollars or nearly three times Canada's investment in China at about 5 billion dollars.

Canada is also looking at other economic opportunities in Asia.

Fast, who also serves as Canada's Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, is in Thailand as part of a four-nation trade mission with stops in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, marking the first visit there by a Canadian trade minister.

He will also sit down with economic ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) who are meeting this week in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

With a market of over 608 million consumers, ASEAN countries represent Canada's seventh-largest trading partner. Enditem (1 U. S. dollar = 0.9879 Canadian dollars)

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