Canada says its oil should grab EU's attention

Thu May 15, 2008 1:43pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's growing clout as a major oil producer should help persuade the European Union to deepen its trade to the country, Trade Minister David Emerson said on Thursday.

In a speech at a conference in Ottawa, Emerson said Europe -- unlike Canada -- perhaps needed some convincing of the potential benefits of knocking down barriers to trade and investment between the two markets.

In addition to being a gateway to a much larger North American market of 440 million people and being a leader in many industries, Canada will be a reliable source of energy long into the future.

"Maybe it's the most important piece (of the puzzle) in terms of attracting the attention of Europe," Emerson said.

"Because as everyone in the world is noticing today, Canada's an energy power. We have a massive natural resource base and there is more to come... You don't have to worry about Canada being intransigent in terms of our commercial relationships."

Canada is the top oil supplier to the United States. Oil reserves in the western Canadian province of Alberta alone are the second largest in the world after Saudi Arabia's and billions of dollars is being spent developing the vast oil sands there.

Emerson also pointed to untapped resources in the north, including the Arctic that will come on stream over the next few decades.

"It, to me, is a very, very powerful reason why partners like the EU should want to deepen their relationship with Canada," he said.

Canada and the EU are not negotiating a free trade agreement but they agreed last year to conduct a study of their respective trade barriers with the aim of deepening their economic relationship. Two-way trade totaled C$110 billion last year.

(Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Renato Andrade)