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Harper to visit India and China, free trade on the agenda

The National Post reports that, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to visit India next month, Canwest News Service has learned, and advisers and diplomats are hopeful he’ll be able to tack on a visit to China at the same time, a trip that could pay dividends for Canada’s standing on the world stage as it prepares to host key international summits (the G8 and G20) in 2010.”
“Harper and other leaders of Pacific Rim countries will be in Singapore on Nov. 14 and 15 for the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.”

“Ever since the APEC meeting last year in Peru, Harper has used international events to counsel against protectionism, a view shared by China and India.”

“When those meetings end, Harper will head to New Delhi for meetings with (Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) and will likely stay in India (from Nov. 15) until Nov. 18, Canwest News Service has learned. Among other things, Singh and Harper are expected to use the trip to talk about establishing a Canada-India Free Trade Agreement or smaller steps that would lower trade barriers between the countries.”

Apart from New Delhi, Harper may visit Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.

“The prime minister’s advisers are keeping his calendar open after the India trip until Nov. 24 for a potential visit to Beijing and (Hu Jintao) the Chinese president (from Nov. 19 to 22). …(For various reasons) a China visit may not happen in November but could be postponed until later in the year or early next year.”

In a speech on September 3 in Beijing, former prime minister Brian Mulroney said, “A Canada-China investment agreement would send an important message to business and investors that foreign investment in both directions is a vital part of developing the full potential of the relationship. There have been discussions about a Canada-China Investment Agreement for more than 10 years. The time has come to get it done.”

You may also remember that on September 1 the Globe and Mail reported that, “Calgary-based Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. (has) sold a 60-per-cent interest in two of its undeveloped projects near Fort McMurray to the international unit of PetroChina Co. Ltd. (whose parent is the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp.).”

Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. expects the PetroChina deal (for projects that contain an estimated 5 billion barrels of tar sands oil) to close on October 31, and said it expects government approvals to pose little obstacle.

National Post columnist Don Martin wrote that tar sands exports to China, “will require Canada, whose pipelines now head only north and south, to punch a hole in the Rockies and open up a crude flow to the west coast, from where oil could head overseas.”

Today’s report is at http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2065650. The earlier report on Mulroney’s speech is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=1757.
More on China and the tar sands at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=1711.