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Canadian PM makes pitch for energy to fuel China's economy

by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) Oct 13, 2010
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a pitch on Wednesday for Canadian energy to fuel China's economic growth, in an apparent move to allay Chinese apprehensions about investing here.

Speaking at the opening of a conference marking 40 years of Sino-Canadian diplomatic ties, Harper said as global trade patterns change, the two countries, "more and more ... are in a position to cooperate for our mutual benefit."

"China needs a stable source of energy to fuel its continuing growth; Canada is an emerging energy superpower," he said.

"Chinese companies look for the best places to do business; Canada has low and falling tax rates, a low debt-to-GDP ratio, and an environment welcoming to foreign investment."

Canadians have increasingly expressed alarm whenever a Chinese state-owned firm has sought to invest in Canada's resource sector, fearing they will ignore free-market rules and push down resource prices tied to royalties.

China's Sinochem is reportedly seeking assurances from the Harper government that its bid to acquire Potash Corp will be "fairly considered" before it proceeds.

A consortium led by the Chinese company is considering mounting a rival offer to Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton's 40-billion dollar hostile bid for the world's largest producer of potash, used to make fertilizer.

Chinese firms seeking a toehold in Canada's oil sands -- the largest known crude deposit outside the Middle East -- meanwhile, have opted for joint ventures and partial stakes to avoid the kind of political uproar sparked when CNOOC tried to take over US oil group Unocal in 2005.

Since the failed bid for Unocal, Chinese firms have pumped billions of dollars into the Alberta oil sands region in Western Canada, which has estimated reserves of 175 billion barrels.

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