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WINNIPEG Manitoba (Reuters) - A condominium developer has signed a C$1 billion ($880 million) deal to export Canadian canola oil to China, according to the Ottawa government.
The deal was one of more than 20 commercial agreements signed during Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to China, which wrapped up this week. The government said on its website on Saturday that LeMine Investment Group, an Ontario real estate company, had signed a seven-year deal to export canola oil to China and agreed to promote it with Guizhou Fengguan Group.
LeMine Executive Director Thomas Liu was in China and was not immediately available for comment, one of the company's staff said. It was unclear how the real estate company struck a deal to move into commodity trading.
"We're really supportive of anything that's going to improve trade because China is a huge and growing market for us," Patti Miller, president of industry group Canola Council of Canada, said on Thursday.
LeMine must arrange to purchase from an existing Canadian seed crusher canola oil that it can then export, Miller said, adding that she did not know details of the agreement.
Companies with Canadian canola-crushing operations include Bunge Ltd, Archer Daniels Midland Co, Richardson International, Cargill Ltd, Viterra Inc, TRT-ETGO and Louis Dreyfus Corp.
The government would not release further details, saying the agreement was private.
Canada shipped 885,000 tonnes of canola oil to China in 2013, making it the second-largest export market after the United States, according to Statistics Canada data.
Canola oil is used mainly in foods like salad dressing and margarine.
Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Lisa Von Ahn