Qatar and Canada recently held high-level discussions on “potential opportunities for increased collaboration” between Canadian companies and the country’s private and public sectors in key areas including energy, transportation, infrastructure, education and health, as well as opportunities for enhanced bilateral investment.
Canadian Minister of International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne’s meeting with HE the Minister of Energy and Industry Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada on Thursday revolved around “building bridges” and opportunities in the energy sector, particularly on Qatar Petroleum.
“Canada has huge natural resources and is an oil and gas producing nation…there are opportunities, obviously, in the oil and gas sector and I think the Minister of Energy and Industry recognised that we have expertise in Canada about onshore and offshore, which would be interesting to build upon.
“The meetings were about building bridges, which is also a testament of the importance of Qatar and the region for Canada,” Champagne told Gulf Times in an interview.
Champagne also discussed innovation and opportunities in the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector with HE the Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani.
“We share a common vision about security and prosperity, and we have agreed to pursue a number of initiatives together. Canada is very big on innovation and want to be the innovation capital of world so, we want to engage with our Qatari colleagues to see what the opportunities are and what more we can do together,” he pointed out.
Champagne underlined the role of the education sector in the growth of Qatar-Canada trade. Citing the University of Calgary and the College of the North Atlantic – Qatar, he described both educational institutions as “the blueprint of success.”
“There are many opportunities for us to partner together and I think it starts with education…this is a blueprint of an ambitious trade agenda because it starts with education.
“Trade equals growth and growth equals jobs, so we need to make sure that we equip our respective peoples with the right tools, remove barriers, facilitate trade between our two nations, and then both our people will prosper,” he explained.
On bilateral relationship, Champagne said he and Sheikh Ahmed “agreed on a number of initiatives that would be conducive” to increase Qatar-Canada bilateral trade, which currently stands at $227.1mn.
Asked about Qatari investments in Canada, Champagne said: “Now, Canada is putting together the Canada Infrastructure Bank where we’re going to put C$15bn from the government, we’re going to raise C$20bn from the market.
“That, in my view, is a good opportunity to partner with our Qatari colleagues and friends because we have announced in the last budget an investment of 186bn Canadian dollars over 12 years in infrastructure investment in Canada and I think this would create opportunities for Qatari investment funds because you’re looking at a very stable, environmentally sustainable, financially sustainable assets, and I think this really sparked the interest of my colleagues here in Qatar.”
He added: “In this world of uncertainty, Canada stands out as a beacon of stability and predictability…so I think there is a lot of interest from the Qatar Investment Authority to diversify and what better place than an open and progressive country like Canada.”
Champagne also met with Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker and discussed “potential strategic partnerships” in the field of aerospace.
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