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Oil-rich Alberta lands energy agreement with Japan

Alberta said it's in a good position to meet the growing energy demands of expanding Asian economies.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley returns for trade tour of Asia with an agreement with a Japanese energy company. Photo courtesy of the provincial government of Alberta.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley returns for trade tour of Asia with an agreement with a Japanese energy company. Photo courtesy of the provincial government of Alberta.

May 5 (UPI) -- A deal with a Japanese oil and gas company was among agreements reached during a recent trade visit to Asia, the provincial leader of Alberta said.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley concluded a recent tour of Asia alongside Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous. Three of 10 days were spent in Japan, where she met with representatives from sectors ranging from energy to agriculture.

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During her visit, Notley signed an agreement with the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. to collaborate on components related to oil and gas exploration and production.

"A stable and resilient economy needs a diversity of products and a diversity of markets. Asia is hungry for the world-class products and services Alberta businesses offer," she said in a statement. "When we showcase Alberta abroad we create new economic opportunities at home."

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Japan is Alberta's third-largest trading partner, representing about 15 percent of non-U.S. exports in 2016. Bilateral trade to China and Japan combined for more than $5 billion last year.

In terms of energy, Alberta and the rest of Canada are relatively landlocked and depend on the United States almost exclusively for oil and natural gas exports. That could change with the advancement of the Keystone XL oil pipeline to southern U.S. ports, but it's competing against other Canadian pipelines bound for both of the nation's shores.

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As Alberta's leaders toured Asian nations, Canadian legislators were in the United States saying a strong trade relationship had mutual benefits, but added lawmakers would continue to advocate for Canadian national interests. At a speech at Georgetown University this week, GE Chairman and CEO warned protectionism was a zero-sum game for the United States

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The Canadian government in May issued a public call to weigh in on the possibilities of reaching a free-trade agreement with China. Alberta's government, for its part, said it was "well positioned to meet the high demand for energy resources, raw materials and quality commodities created by Asia's rapidly emerging urban middle class and modernizing economy."

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