First of all, what I would like to say is thank you for the question and thank you for your work on the committee.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, as you rightly said, has the lead on the file with respect to the U.S. negotiations; however, as you will appreciate, this is a whole-of-government approach. When I was in Chile, even when the U.S. was represented at the table, Canada was asked to be the first to speak to set the stage. In my remarks, I welcomed the presence of the U.S. at that table.
With respect to China, I would say that Canada will follow its own process. For me, what we've said is that we owe it to Canadian workers, Canadian families, and Canadian exporters to look carefully at this market. What we've said is that the essential first step, as I call it, is to have exploratory talks to see in which industry there would be a net benefit to Canadians. That's why we are going step by step, engaging with the officials to have meetings, and engaging with Canadians. I've already had round tables; I think one was in Winnipeg.
We want to hear from Canadians, and I want to hear from you as well. It reminds me a bit of when we engaged on the CETA deal. Those who crafted that a decade ago could not necessarily have anticipated at the time the impact this would have on the economy, but I think you would appreciate, having met a number of Canadian businesses, and Mr. Ritz would know.... We were just having a discussion about CAFTA, for example, which is obviously very keen on us engaging. I would call it a step-by-step engagement. We want to hear from Canadians. We want to hear from you. I want to hear from industry. We're looking at that very carefully.
One other step I'm taking as Minister of International Trade is that I have been engaging with our Australian colleagues to take up the lessons learned. You would expect a minister to engage with them, and we're doing that regularly to make sure we understand what has been their experience in having a free trade agreement with China.