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Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng takes part in a roundtable discussion on women's role in peace and security during the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Nov. 13.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The Canadian government will decide shortly on whether to launch talks on a trade deal with Taiwan.

In a background briefing with reporters Monday, a senior official said International Trade Minister Mary Ng has informed her Taiwanese counterpart that a decision on formal negotiations is expected soon.

The official said over the weeks ahead Ms. Ng will discuss next steps with John Deng, the Taiwanese minister responsible for trade negotiations.

The briefing came one day after Canada unveiled its Indo-Pacific strategy that will commit $2.3-billion over five years to expand military, security, trade and diplomatic ties with other nations in the region, in a new approach to China that sees Beijing as more adversary than friend.

Canada’s new strategy calls China “an increasingly disruptive global power” and aims to diversify trade beyond the Chinese market.

Earlier this fall, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, said a trade deal with Canada is among the top ways Ottawa could help the self-governing island now as China ramps up efforts to isolate the territory and bring it under Beijing’s control.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu speaks to journalists at the end of a news conference in Taipei.BEN BLANCHARD/Reuters

Canada promised to begin exploratory talks on an investor protection deal with Taiwan last January and those initial talks were completed in June.

Mr. Wu has said a “big item” to help Taiwan would be a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement, or FIPA, with Canada that could stimulate two-way trade by enshrining legal protections for Canadian investors in Taiwan as well as Taiwanese investors in Canada.

What you need to know about the future of Taiwan-China tensions

Such deals, often regarded as a stepping stone to a full free-trade agreement, would also help build economic ties with the Asian democracy of 24 million people as it faces an unrelenting campaign to isolate it.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province, even though the Chinese Communist Party has never ruled the island since taking power on the mainland in 1949. It bristles against what it considers foreign interference in the matter and has reserved the right to use force to annex Taiwan, where Nationalist forces fled after they lost a civil war to the Communists.

China has been taking steps to cut off Taiwan from the international community, including denying it the chance to participate in global bodies such as the World Health Organization’s regular assemblies, and persuading those countries that recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country to sever relations.

Opinion: Engaging Taiwan is in Canada’s national interest

In 2000, Taiwan had official diplomatic relations with 29 member states of the United Nations, as well as the Holy See, and today the number has dropped to 13 and the Vatican.

Canada has not recognized Taiwan as a sovereign state since 1970 when former prime minister Pierre Trudeau switched diplomatic relations to the Communist-led People’s Republic of China on the mainland.

In August, China’s People’s Liberation Army surrounded the island with warships and launched ballistic missiles over northern Taiwan to express its displeasure at U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.

More to come.

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