BEIJING, April 17 (UPI) -- The Canadian government said it is open to more investment from Chinese energy companies.
Speaking Tuesday to a gathering of Chinese and Canadian executives in Beijing, Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast said, "Whether it's oil, whether it's gas, whether it's uranium, coal, hydro or clean energy like solar and wind power, we've got it," The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper, reported.
"Chinese investors looking for stability, innovation, low taxes and an excellent North American platform and gateway need look no further than Canada," he said.
Fast is leading a Canadian trade mission to China and Japan April 7-21 and was the first of Canada's Cabinet to meet China's new leadership team since President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang were installed last month. It is his third trip to China in less than two years.
The minister's visit to China follows the recently completed $15.1 billion acquisition of Canadian oil-sands operator Nexen by state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp., the largest overseas acquisition by a Chinese company.
In approving the CNOOC-Nexen deal in December, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned that foreign investment by state-owned enterprises in the oil sands would be restricted in the future.
But Fast on Tuesday in Beijing stressed that despite Harper's strong stance regarding oil sands, Chinese investment and acquisitions were still warmly welcomed elsewhere in the energy patch, The Wall Street Journal reports.
"The clarifications that were made with respect to the oil sands were pretty clear and with respect to other investments in the energy sector outside the oil sands, it is still open ... and a welcoming environment for them," the Journal quoted Fast as saying.
Prior to the Nexen deal, CNOOC had invested $2.7 billion in Canada since 2005, China Daily reports.
China is the world's largest oil importer. About 80 percent of China's oil imports are sourced from the Middle East, Africa and Venezuela.
"China does have other places to go to import oil and gas," Ron MacIntosh, a research fellow at the China Institute, University of Alberta, was quoted as saying by the Financial Post. "If Canada is seen as a particularly difficult investment environment, which we hope they don't, than those other places might look more attractive."
Fast said Canada would push ahead with diversifying energy exports away from the United States regardless of the Obama administration's decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would deliver Canadian crude oil to southern U.S. refineries.