Business / Economy

Canada's NWT confident of increased Chinese investment

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-01-23 15:52

VANCOUVER - The leader of Canada's Northwest Territories (NWT) said Wednesday his recent visit to China would help the vast but remote region attract more investment from the world's second largest economy.

In an interview with Xinhua following an 11-day trip in China, NWT Premier Bob McLeod said the main purpose of his trade mission was to strengthen the relationship with his Chinese counterparts, promote the region's fur products and tourism, and woo investment in mining, oil and gas.

"I think we had a very good discussion with a much better understanding. We had some specific meetings on investment and specific mining projects and I think we're very close," he said.

"They indicated they wanted to come up here for their own purposes, or reconnaissance kind of thing, but it looks like we're very close," McLeod said.

With a 1.17-million-square km area and a population of only 45,000, the NWT's abundance of natural resources is virtually untapped. In a bid to diversify the area's economy in an environmentally sustainable way, the NWT Mineral Development Strategy was created in November to revitalize mineral exploration and development.

McLeod said that, with a landscape rich in diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, lead and base metals, several mines had received regulatory approval from the government and were looking for investment.

Another huge area of potential is oil and gas. Not including its offshore resources, the NWT has an estimated 81.2 trillion cubic feet (2.3 trillion cubic meters) of natural gas and nearly 7 billion barrels of oil.

"On oil and gas, when we were there (in China) the smog was a real problem. They were very open; they recognize they have a real problem and the way to deal with it, they see it, is to start converting to more oil and gas and alternative and renewable forms of energy," McLeod said.

"So they're very interested in our oil and gas. The big concern for them is the transportation routes," he said.

With the main thrust of his trade mission being to provide more information about what the NWT has to offer to potential investors, McLeod was encouraged that some Chinese were making the effort to come and see the remote area themselves.

Statistics released by the Canadian Tourism Commission show 273,000 Chinese visited Canada in 2012, up 15.5 percent from a year earlier. While few are going north, McLeod said more than 1,200 Chinese were expected to visit the territory this year.

"(Due to) the fact that this year we're going to have over 1,200 Chinese visitors, (and) the fact that we're working a concerted effort to do business with China, I think it's going to put us in good stay," he said.

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks