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Oil-rich Alberta sees trade potential with Asia

Look to Asian economies comes days after provincial government assessed ties to Trump administration.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Alberta's provincial government working through Vancouver to expand trade opportunities in the Asian economy. Photo by nito/Shutterstock
Alberta's provincial government working through Vancouver to expand trade opportunities in the Asian economy. Photo by nito/Shutterstock

EDMONTON, Alberta, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Days after assessing the energy ties with the incoming U.S. administration, Alberta's government said it was now looking for trade opportunities with Asia.

The provincial government of Alberta said it would promote more trade opportunities with Asian economies through work with a port authority in the western coastal city of Vancouver.

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Provincial Minister of Economic Development Deron Bilous said exports from Alberta to Asia are already up 16 percent and there's room to grow.

"The Port of Vancouver is Alberta's best connection to Asia," he said in a statement. "We are a trade province and making it easier for our businesses to export their products around the world creates jobs and diversifies our economy here at home."

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The province exported more than $5.5 billion worth of goods through the Port of Vancouver last year and nearly half of that went to China, one of the world's leading economies.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in September addressed the Canada-China Business Council during a state visit to Shanghai. The prime minister said better-paying jobs could emerge on both sides of the Pacific with a stronger focus on low-carbon partnerships.

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He later signed off on a $27 billion planned liquefied natural gas project steered by a division of the Malaysian energy company known as Petronas. Project consortium Pacific NorthWest LNG said the facility, once built, could add 4,000 sustainable jobs to the economy in the western province of British Columbia.

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Canada relies heavily on oil and gas to fuel its economy and most of its energy exports go to the United States. Kinder Morgan was dealt a setback early this year when the provincial government of British Columbia raised questions about plans to expand the existing westbound Trans Mountain pipeline network to triple its capacity to around 890,000 barrels of oil per day.

With the U.S. election win for Donald Trump, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said there was renewed potential to expand oil pipeline networks through the United States. From the campaign trail, Trump vowed to restart the process for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta, but suggested deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement were bad for the prospects for U.S. workers.

Notley said she'd work to defend Canadian trade interests.

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