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Canada, Kuwait sign economic co-operation pact

Opportunity is expected to knock for Canadian agri-food exporters through a new agreement on economic co-operation between Canada and Kuwait.

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day and Kuwait’s Commerce and Industry Minister Ahmad Rashed Al-Haroun signed the agreement Wednesday in Ottawa.

“Kuwait offers many opportunities for Canadian companies in the oil and gas sector, engineering and architectural services, agri-food and education,” Day said in a government release.

Canada, by signing the agreement, “is opening doors for Canadian business by establishing a framework by which both sides can work to increase trade and investment,” he said.

The agreement is meant to “enhance economic relations” in trade and investment; to help pave the way for liberalizing trade and investment while respecting each country’s laws and international obligations; to facilitate “increased involvement” of the private sector in trade and investment co-operation; and to encourage private-sector investment.

Kuwait has one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, with assets estimated at $200 billion, the government said. Canada’s two-way merchandise trade with Kuwait in 2008 was valued at $195 million, almost a 70 per cent increase over the previous year.

Kuwait is also a member of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), a group of six nations that Canada considers a “priority market” of the most prosperous countries in the Middle East. Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and GCC nations was worth $5.6 billion in 2008, up 37 per cent from 2007.

Secure supply chain

Canada on Thursday also signed a customs mutual assistance agreement with South Africa, which involves sharing of customs information and intelligence “to prevent, investigate and combat customs offences and allow for co-operation on critical global issues such as security,” according to federal Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan.

The agreement, Canada’s eighth since 1984, “will enable Canada and South Africa to exchange information to ensure the proper application of customs law in their respective territories, and to enhance the security of the international trade supply chain,” the government said.

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