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Canada's Trudeau says will keep exploring trade deal with China

Reuters  |  BEIJING 

By Michael Martina

(Reuters) - Canada's minister extended his stay in on Tuesday in a bid to salvage early talks on a free agreement with China, but faces tough choices after the United States threatened to pull out of NAFTA.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau departed for Guangzhou after meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday, telling reporters that progress towards free talks would not be swift.

The go-slow signal comes as considers whether to launch formal talks on a free deal with China, which wants a pact similar to the ones it has with Australia and New Zealand.

Trudeau's Liberal government must weigh domestic unease at closer ties with pressure from business interests for more access to the Chinese market.

Polls show Canadians are split over the merits of a deal, but needs to diversify exports to offset the possible damage done if U.S. President Donald Trump pulls out of the North American Free Agreement.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Trudeau reiterated that a deal with was not an "overnight process".

"And once we get to the stage of negotiating a agreement, that's going to take years, as well," Trudeau said.

Canadian media reported that Trudeau did not win the commitment he wanted from Li on a progressive agenda.

Li said remained open to exploring a deal.

"We have an open attitude toward the process of negotiations, and an open attitude towards their contents," Li said.

While Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne had originally intended to accompany Trudeau to Guangzhou, a spokesman said the minister had made "good progress" in the last two days, and would continue working in

Brock University professor Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat who served two tours in China, said that Trudeau "thought he had come up with something that would satisfy both constituencies and the Chinese just would not buy into it."

"And so we are left with the decision in the months ahead as to whether we want to proceed with free or simply continue with the existing arrangements with China, which are leading to a wider and wider deficit," he said.

Trudeau's visit, which began on Sunday, comes as plane maker Bombardier Inc is eager to win a breakthrough order from Chinese carriers for its CSeries jet, whose fuselage is made in

But the chance of sealing such deals has become more cloudy after encouraged Bombardier to sell a controlling stake in the CSeries program to Airbus rather than a Chinese firm.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; editing by Nick Macfie and Rosalba O'Brien)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, December 06 2017. 00:13 IST