China, Canada firms sign 56 deals worth more than $1.2 billion

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) ahead of their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Aug 31, 2016.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) ahead of their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Aug 31, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese and Canadian firms signed 56 deals worth more than C$1.2 billion (S$1.24 billion) at a ceremony on Thursday (Sept 1), Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said in Shanghai.

Ms Freeland said that Canada could be a great partner for China but that Canada was "taking our time" over a free trade agreement. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday that both countries had agreed to start feasibility talks on a free trade pact at an early date.

The deals signed on Thursday involve companies in sectors from seafood to clean technologies, the trade minister said ahead of a speech by Mr Trudeau.

A deep and effective economic relationship with China needed to be built consistently, thoughtfully and carefully, Ms Freeland said.

An eleventh-hour deal to delay new, stricter rules on canola imports was a meaningful and important step for Canada, Ms Freeland said.

China is Canada's top export market for the oilseed, and Ottawa has taken a strong line in talks on a new standard, which may raise costs for exporters.

Canada is committed to reaching a long-term and permanent canola deal with China at an early date, Ms Freeland said.