Global Insider: Lack of Infrastructure Holds Back Canada’s Energy Trade With China

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper traveled to China earlier this month, where he met with senior Chinese leaders and signed deals promoting bilateral economic cooperation. In an email interview, Daniel Poon, a researcher at the North-South Institute, discussed trade and diplomatic relations between Canada and China.

WPR: What is the nature and extent of energy relations between Canada and China, and how are they evolving?

Daniel Poon: Due to years of prioritizing the U.S. market over all others, the extent of Canadian energy and, more generally, commercial relations with China have been relatively limited. In 2010, roughly one-third of Canada’s exports to the U.S. consisted of mineral fuels, about the same share as in Canada’s exports to South Korea; the share of this category of exports to Japan was 21 percent. In contrast, only about 10 percent of Canada’s exports to China were mineral fuels. (When agricultural goods and mineral fuels are combined, the share of these categories amounted to 40 percent of Canada’s exports to China.)

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