April 14 (UPI) -- The economies of Asia are eager for some of Canada's top export commodities like energy and petrochemicals, the country's trade minister said.
Canadian Trade Minister Deron Bilous joins Alberta Premier Rachel Notley for a 10-day visit to China and Japan.
"Our exports to Asia are represented by our major industries, energy, petrochemicals, agriculture, forestry and value-added products in those sectors," Bilous said in a statement. "Asian investors and businesses are hungry for these products, and face-to-face meetings with our premier will build more confidence and credibility for our companies."
The visit comes one month after the Canadian government issued a public call to weigh in on the possibilities of reaching a free-trade agreement with China. Canada's trade with China would translate to economic expansion and job growth at home, the government said.
An overview of the state of trade in Canada said the national economy "did not follow the script" for a developed economy starting in 2015 as the impact of lower oil prices had broad implications given the size of the Canadian energy industry and associated economic sectors.
Many of the export metrics trended lower for Canada in 2015 and unemployment that year rose to 7.1 percent.
Alberta's government said common themes during the visit to China would include oil and gas exports, while talks in Tokyo would highlight issues for energy in general as Japan reconfigures that sector in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
"China and Japan dominate Alberta's export economy, second only to the U.S. Trade and investment missions are instrumental to connecting with the right people and identifying how to harness that potential," the premier said.
On the energy sector in particular, Canada is largely landlocked and relies almost entirely on the United States as its export destination for oil. The approval by U.S. President Donald Trump of the Keystone XL oil pipeline could help Canadian oil reach export terminals, but it has to compete with two other pipelines on tap for Canadian ports.
Speaking in Ottawa earlier this week, Central Bank of Canada Gov. Stephen Poliz said there are signs of recovery emerging with oil prices on the rebound, but the overall economy is still facing headwinds.
U.S. President Donald Trump on taking the oath of office in January pledged to dismantle or reconfigure central parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement, rattling Canada's nerves as the United States is a key trading partner.
Poliz said that uncertainty is leaving many economists and corporations guessing.