Vive Le Canada

Ottawa pushes to sell energy, wood to China
Date: Wednesday, October 12 2005

Ottawa pushes to sell energy, wood to China


Tuesday, October 11, 2005 Posted at 3:08 AM EDT

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

OTTAWA Less than a week after Prime Minister Paul Martin publicly raised the spectre of energy restrictions as a lever in the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute, the federal government is launching an aggressive push to sell energy and wood to China.

"Now is the time to diversify Canada's trade and investment relations, especially in China, and especially in energy and other natural resources," Revenue Minister John McCallum said.

Mr. McCallum, who became acting Natural Resources Minister last month after John Efford stepped aside because of health concerns, is travelling to Beijing today in advance of the G-20 summit, for talks with senior Chinese officials.

The timing of the trip, so soon after Mr. Martin's toughly worded speech to a New York audience, is no coincidence and is partly intended to reinforce Mr. Martin's message, sources say.

"This is not a threat, and there is no linkage," Mr. McCallum said in an interview yesterday. "I am saying that Canada is pursuing its national interest to sell our energy resources and our other resources all around the world to get the best price and the most secure markets that we can."

But like Mr. Martin and other senior government officials who addressed the issue over the weekend, Mr. McCallum, while insisting there is no linkage between softwood and energy, explicitly reiterated the link.

"The government is saying that if the U.S. doesn't respect NAFTA rules on wood, then what does that mean for NAFTA rules in other areas, including energy?" Mr. McCallum said. "Canada believes that NAFTA is too important for both of our countries to sow doubts like this in people's minds."

Under the Bush administration, the United States has officially re-classified China as a "strategic competitor." In conservative circles in Washington, China is increasingly viewed as the United States' next great economic and military rival.

With well over a billion people, annual economic growth upwards of nine per cent and foreign exchange reserves of $711-billion, second only to Japan, China has enormous purchasing power.

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on October 15, 2005]


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