Ottawa, 15 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Canadian International Trade Minister Art Eggleton is leading the largest trade delegation in four years to Russia. The business group started its trip on Sunday with a two-day stop in Poland.
Accompanying Eggleton are representatives of 50 of Canada's largest companies, looking to either expand existing projects in the two countries or investigate possible new investment opportunities. There are about 250 Canadian business ventures in Russia with slightly more than $200 million in direct investment, mostly in oil and gas projects.
However, bilateral trade has been disappointing. In 1995, combined trade amounted to just over $500 million, but statistics for the first half of this year indicate that total could drop by as much as 50 percent. While officials at Canada's Foreign Affairs Department say they are optimistic that the trade mission will invigorate the lagging trade situation, there are plans to close the Canadian consulate in St. Petersburg early next year.