The federal government is launching consultations on a potential free trade agreement with China.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced the beginning of exploratory discussions in September.

Now the government says it is seeking input from individuals, businesses, civil society organizations, labour unions, academics, indigenous groups and provincial and territorial governments.

The government points out in the Canada Gazette that China is already Canada’s second-largest single-nation trading partner, after the United States.

“A potential free trade agreement with China could result in economic gains for Canada by creating opportunities for Canadian firms,” says the notice from Global Affairs.

“Canadians may have concerns about China, including issues relating to the environment, labour, gender equality, rule of law and human rights,” the notice goes on.

A free trade agreement with China as a means to economic growth could take on new importance for the Liberals now that the Trans-Pacific Partnership between Canada, the U.S., Japan and nine other nations was effectively killed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Support for free trade agreements in Canada is generally high, but a 2016 survey of 3,526 Canadians by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada found Canadians are evenly split on free trade with China in particular, with 46 per cent in favour and 46 per cent opposed.

More details about how to participate in the consultations can be found in the Canada Gazette.