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Posted by

Rajan Sawhney


February 10, 2023



Last week was a vital week for Alberta’s trade and energy sector, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan had meetings in Ottawa.

These meetings come on the heels of the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), released by the federal government last November. The IPS will act as a road map to expand and strengthen Canada’s trade and security ties and manage relations with Indo-Pacific nations.

A vitally important region, the Indo-Pacific region is home to 40 countries and half of the world’s population. It is also a key driver of global economic growth. In 2021, it represented 35% of global trade and gross domestic product.

As Trade, Immigration, and Multiculturalism minister, I saw the IPS as very welcome, if not overdue, news for our province. Alberta is Canada’s third-largest exporter to the region, with exports reaching $8.1 billion in the last 10 years. Alberta trades material amounts of canola seed, wheat, ethylene glycol, liquid propane and bituminous coal to Indo-Pacific nations. Clearly, our province has strong immigration and trade relationships with Indo-Pacific nations including Japan, and last week’s meeting between the two prime ministers was a significant kick-off to the federal government’s strategy in the region.

While the IPS has plans for agriculture exports among many other trade and immigration priorities, there is, however, a glaring lack of attention given to Canada’s capacity to provide energy products to Indo-Pacific nations. Nations within the Indo-Pacific region have been wanting increased access to clean Alberta energy, as was clearly demonstrated at the meeting with Prime Minister Kishida and Prime Minister Trudeau. Yet, the IPS has no co-ordinated plan to get our energy to those nations. Today, energy security is at the forefront of national conversations across the globe and the need for clean and ethically produced energy products has never been higher.

The IPS mentions Canada as a reliable energy security partner, but focuses only on renewable energy and energy transition opportunities. These are not to be understated; we are in a period of energy transition and these are important elements of the energy portfolio. The IPS, however, notably does not address the Indo-Pacific’s increased demand for conventional energy, like LNG, nor what Canada’s role will be (if any) in meeting that demand. The omission of traditional energy products from the IPS is a significant oversight and indeed, a lost opportunity to signal the importance of Alberta energy, not only to Indo-pacific nations, but to international markets as well.

This is why Alberta’s government is very concerned with the lack of attention given to the energy sector in the IPS, and is strongly encouraging the federal government to reconsider its position on Canada’s energy goals in the Indo-Pacific region. Japan, like Germany a number of weeks ago, and potentially other nations in the future, has asked about Canada’s ability to provide them with energy products, and what they need is real action and commitment, not equivocation and finger-wagging.

The reality is that Alberta is poised to be the answer to energy security for our international allies. Alberta’s government and our industry partners have continuously been working on multiple projects to ensure we get clean, ethically sourced energy to the world. We continue to maintain strong partnerships with the United States and U.S. energy markets. We are lobbying the federal government to ensure we are at the table in these critical trade conversations, including talks with Japan, as they plan their trade mission to ensure Japan knows we are open for business. We will be engaging with officials in Germany to ensure they know we are keen to strengthen business ties with them.

Just last week, I had very productive meetings with a number of industry executives including CN and Mitsubishi Canada to discuss the future of LNG, hydrogen and other forms of energy within Alberta. Alberta is ready and willing to provide our allies with these in-demand energy products; we just need the federal government to demonstrate political will and take action to ensure that the pathways to nation-building projects are free of regulatory and ideological hurdles.

  • Photo of Rajan Sawhney

    Rajan Sawhney

    Rajan Sawhney was sworn in as Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism on October 24, 2022.

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