(Reuters) – Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng spoke with Taiwan’s top trade negotiator John Deng on Tuesday and agreed to start formal negotiations between Taipei and Ottawa for a deal to encourage foreign investments.
The negotiations are likely to irk China, which views self-governing Taiwan as its own territory and has sour relations with Canada. Taiwan strongly rejects China’s sovereignty claims.
Ng and Deng spoke about strengthening trade and “the value of creating greater access to investment potential for businesses of all sizes and sectors in Canada and Taiwan”, said a statement by the Canadian trade ministry.
The talks about what the trade ministry called a “Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Arrangement” are part of Canada’s plan to increase trade and influence in the fast-growing Indo-Pacific region.
Late last year, Ottawa announced its long-awaited strategy for the region that included C$2.3 billion spending to boost military and cyber security, and a plan to deal with what it called a “disruptive” China.
“By beginning formal negotiations with Taiwan towards a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Arrangement, we are working to secure new opportunities for investment to support sustainable growth, establish new collaborations, and ensure good, well-paying jobs,” Ng said in the statement.
Trade between Canada and Taiwan totaled C$10.2 billion in 2021, up from C$7.4 billion in 2020, according to official figures.
Tensions between China and Canada soared in late 2018 when Canadian police detained a Huawei Technologies executive, followed by the arrest of two Canadians in China on spying charges. All three were freed in 2021 but relations remain strained.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Ismail Shakil; Editing by Mark Heinrich)