Canada wants "mutual respect" from China on trade

Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:35am EST
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By David Ljunggren

CHONGQING, China (Reuters) - Some Canadian resource firms are being treated unfairly in China and Beijing must deal with the problem if it wants a proper trading relationship with energy-rich Canada, a top official told Reuters on Saturday.

China is keen to one day import Canadian crude to help fuel its rapidly-expanding economy.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, speaking during a trade mission designed in large part to sell oil to China, said some Canadian companies were having trouble obtaining permits to develop sites.

"If we want to build a long-term strategic relationship with China, which we do, and which the Chinese have said they want to build with us, it has to be based on mutual respect, reciprocity and equality," Oliver told Reuters in an interview.

"So we would like to see Canadian companies treated as well as Chinese companies are treated in Canada. And that's the issue and I think it's a serious issue ... it's one of the issues that needs to be addressed as we move to the next step in our relationship."

Oliver declined to identify the firms in question, although he said many were involved in mining.

China is investing heavily in the oil-rich tar sands of Alberta, home to the third largest reserve of oil in the world. In the last seven months Chinese firms have bought C$5.5 billion ($5.5 billion) worth of energy assets and look set to snap up more.

Oliver said he had raised the problem of securing permits with senior Chinese officials and the nation's main energy firms.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves while boarding his plane in Guangzhou February 11, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>