Ottawa, 16 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Canadian International Trade Minister Art Eggleton has announced new joint ventures in Russia and $3.5 million in new technical assistance. The announcement was made Wednesday in Moscow at the end of a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Zaveryukha and other senior Russian officials.
Eggleton is heading a Canadian trade delegation to Russia and co-chaired the second annual meeting of the Canada-Russia Intergovernmental Economic Commission, set up last year to promote trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
At last year's session, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien promised to double trade between the two countries by the year 2000. Bilateral commerce has been relatively stagnant for the last five years. Last year, combined trade stood at just over $500 million, with Canada importing more than it exported to Russia.
Four Canadian companies will start new ventures in Russia:
Northern Telecom has joined the Russian Telecom Forum, a co-ordinating body of the largest telecommunications companies in Russia. The Ottawa-based company is a world leader in the production of sophisticated telephone switching devices and has already had several contracts in Russia.
Molson Breweries has secured permission to sell its extensive range of Canadian beers in Russia.
Teron International has formed a joint venture with two Russian construction firms to produce materials for low- and middle-income housing. The Canadian home-building company has participated in some demonstration projects in Russia to showcase Canadian home construction techniques for cold climates
Construct Quebec, a consortium of Canadian building supply companies, will open a showroom in Moscow.
The new technical assistance funds from Canada will go towards management training for a large Russian natural gas company that is about to be privatized, for assisting legal reform and for an Arctic environmental monitoring program.
The trade delegation will also visit St. Petersburg for a round-table discussion with Russian entrepreneurs, visits to major factories and agricultural enterprises and the announcement of Canadian funds to provide the Hermitage Museum with special window screens to block out harmful ultra-violet light.
The group left Poland on Tuesday, after a two-day visit. Eggleton said that bilateral trade has doubled in the last two years and that Canadian exports to Poland are up by one-third this year. Last year, two-way trade totalled about $175 million and, for the first half of this year, stood at $127 million.
Eggleton predicts "the best is yet to come" and adds that Poland "can become a gateway for Canadian business into Eastern Europe, while Canada can facilitate the access of Polish goods into American markets."