European, U.S. Protectionism Views Unlikely To Creep Into Canada: Trudeau

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HANGZHOU, China — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there's little risk that protectionist forces seen in the United States and Europe will spill over into Canada.

Trudeau made the remarks Monday at the end of the Group of 20 summit in China, where he urged fellow world leaders to fight back against growing anti-trade sentiments.

Speaking to reporters in Hangzhou after the G20, Trudeau said he believes Canadians in every demographic group broadly support positive engagement with the world.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waits for United States President Barack Obama as they leave the family photo at the G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou on Sept. 4, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

"I'd be very careful and hesitant to apply situations that might be described in other countries to Canadians because we've seen Canadians are — and all demographic groups combined — generally open and positive and optimistic about the future,'' Trudeau said.

On Sunday, International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland blamed growing anti-trade movements for complicating Canada's free trade talks with Europe and negotiations on softwood lumber with the U.S.

During his second G20 since taking office, Trudeau said he had discussions on many different subjects with just about every leader, including U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Prime Minister's Office says he had five sit-down meetings on the sidelines of the summit with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the European Union, the OECD and Singapore.

"What happens at a summit like this is leaders have many opportunities to discuss a broad range of issues."

His only formal bilateral meeting was with Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno, who is also chair of the African Union.

"What happens at a summit like this is leaders have many opportunities to discuss a broad range of issues,'' he said, when asked why he didn't hold more bilateral meetings.

"Yes, there are a number of formal bilaterals, but the conversations that go on in the margins are equally important on wide range of issues.''

Trudeau was also encouraged that China and the U.S. — the planet's biggest polluters — both announced in Hangzhou they would formally join the ambitious Paris agreement on climate change.

He said there was a "clear and positive'' consensus around the G20 table that ratification of the Paris climate accord needed to happen soon, a goal outlined in the summit's closing communique.

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U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands during their meeting ahead of the G20 Summit at the West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou, China on Sept. 3. (Photo: How Hwee Young/Reuters)

"The significant momentum generated by both China and the United States ratifying is an encouragement to all countries around the G20 table, and indeed around the world, to move forward with ratification as quickly as possible,'' said Trudeau, who has been engaged in ongoing talks with the provinces to ratify.

Canada, however, isn't quite ready to ratify the accord just yet as a cross-country plan remains a work in progress.

Still, Trudeau insisted "we have the intention of ratifying in the coming months.''

The Paris accord envisions measures to hold the average global temperature increase to "well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels'' and closer to 1.5 degrees.

Trudeau is nearing the end of his eight-day trip to China, during which he also held bilateral talks focused mainly on trade and investment with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

He flew to Hong Kong on Monday night for the last leg of his first official visit to the world's second-biggest economy.

Trudeau reiterated during the news conference his government's goal to deepen business ties with China.

"We're always happy to listen to questions and concerns that the Chinese may have."

He was asked if Chinese leaders raised their long-held concerns with him over Canada's restrictions on foreign investment by state-owned enterprises.

"That specific issue wasn't brought up by the Chinese in any of my meetings,'' said Trudeau, who appeared open to discussing the issue.

"But we're always happy to listen to questions and concerns that the Chinese may have and we're always looking to create opportunities for Canadians and Canadian businesses.''

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