International Trade Minister Ed Fast is planning a mission to Russia in June, his office confirmed Monday, as it reaches out to businesses to see who is interested in accompanying him.
Fast's mission to Russia would complete visits to each of the high-growth BRIC countries: Brazil, which he hit last summer; India, which got a visit in November 2011; and China, where he led a trade mission in October 2011 and then accompanied Prime Minister Stephen Harper in early February.
The visit to St. Petersburg and Moscow is set for June 3-8 and will be focused on the aerospace sector, as well as building and construction, a spokesman for Fast said. Canadian architects and engineers are already working with their Russian counterparts on projects for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, a news release from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade says.
Fast's department is now reaching out to businesses in those sectors to find representatives to join the trade mission.
Although Russia's reputation has been marred by allegations of widespread corruption in both business and politics, the country joined the World Trade Organization in December.
At the time, Fast issued a statement congratulating Russia.
"The Canada-Russia trade relationship is important to us, and Canada has been a strong supporter of Russia’s accession to the WTO," he said in the statement.
"As part of its accession, Russia has committed to the rules that apply to all WTO members and has agreed to undertake a series of important commitments to further open its markets and accelerate its integration into the world economy."
A flyer promoting the trip notes Russia has a "highly educated population of more than 142 million, with an advanced science and technology capacity," as well as substantial resources like natural gas and oil.
Canada exported about $1.5 billion in merchandise to Russia in 2011 and imported almost $1.3 billion.
Canadian trade policy experts worked with Russia's accession team, Fast noted in a speech at the WTO.
Russia is spending 2012 as the chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum and will host the G20 in 2013.
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