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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada must "continue to address very forcefully" its large trade deficit with China and will also press for Canadian companies to be given more access to the Chinese market, Canada's new ambassador to Beijing said on Wednesday.
Guy Saint-Jacques spoke after a meeting with Foreign Minister John Baird. Ottawa is studying a $15.1 billion takeover bid by China's CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK) for Canadian oil producer Nexen Inc NXY.TO.
Critics say Canada should only approve the proposal if China removes some of the barriers facing Canadian companies.
"Much work remains to ensure that our companies have greater access to the Chinese market, and we have to continue to address very forcefully the present trade imbalance," Saint-Jacques told reporters. He is due to take up his new post in the next few weeks.
Canada ran a C$31.8 billion ($32.3 billion) trade deficit with China in 2011, according to Canadian government data.
Critics complain that Chinese companies have far more freedom to operate in Canada than their Canadian counterparts do in China and cite alleged discrimination and excessive bureaucracy.
Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) has been waiting a year for official go-ahead to purchase a minority stake in China's primarily government-owned Bank of Guangzhou.
Reporting by Randall Palmer, writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway