Rights key to Canada-China trade deal: envoy

OTTAWA — John McCallum, Canada’s newly arrived ambassador to China, says human rights and labour standards will form part of any potential free trade agreement between the two countries.

Canada and China haven’t formally started trade negotiations and are still in an exploratory phase that includes a round of consultations by Ottawa.

McCallum tells The Canadian Press he’s seen lots of enthusiasm in Canada for a deal with China and he’s keen to pursue deeper economic ties when, and if, the time comes.

But not at the expense of human rights, he says.

McCallum is also brushing aside a warning by former World Bank chief and U.S. trade czar Robert Zoellick that Canada shouldn’t get too close to China if it wants to stay on the good side of the Trump administration in Washington.

Despite some provocative rhetoric towards China by Donald Trump, McCallum points out that the Trump administration does not yet have its Chinese ambassador in place and it remains to be seen how Washington will actually engage with Beijing.

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