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Russian PM looks for more trade with Canada

Russia's Prime Minister is trying to drum up more commercial ties with Canada during a trip to the country this week.

“Canada is Russia’s strategic partner. Mutual co-operation is highly important for us,” insisted Viktor Zubkov, Russian Prime Minister.

The countries share a stable political relationship but that’s still not reflected in trade.

In the first half of 2007, bilateral trade totaled $US 1 billion – a drop in the ocean for economies as big as Russia and Canada.

Oil products dominate Russian exports to Canada. In return, Canada sells machines, engineering goods, vehicles and meat. But Russia’s adding some other items to its shopping list.

“We have signed agreements in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, nuclear power, trade financing as well as in the Arctic and northern regions,” said Zubkov.

Russia’s state Corporation Atomredmetzoloto, the leading producer of uranium in Russia, will set up joint ventures with Canada’s Cameco to mine and produce uranium in both countries.

“We have signed an agreement to establish two joint ventures. Diversification of uranium supplies is extremely important for Russia. We want not only to get uranium from Canada, but also we want to have an opportunity to invest in production of uranium in Canada,” outlined Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Rosatom Corporation.

Russia invests seven times as much money in Canada as flows the other way.

Norilsk Nickel recently acquired Canadian nickel and gold producer LionOre. But Canadian companies could play a greater role in Russia’s economy.

On the sidelines of Prime Minister Zubkov's visit, Russia’s Development bank VEB agreed a trade insurance deal with Canada's Export Development Corporation.