11/20/2014 11:46 EST | Updated 01/20/2015 05:59 EST

Saskatchewan premier on trade mission touts potash deals with Indian companies

REGINA - Saskatchewan's premier heralded two new agreements Thursday that will see increased potash exports to India.

Brad Wall, who is on a week-long trade mission, witnessed separate deals between the off-shore marketing arm of Saskatchewan potash producers, Canpotex, and Coromandel International Ltd. and Tata Chemicals Ltd.

The government said millions of tonnes of potash will be shipped to India over the next few years. In 2013, Saskatchewan led Canada in exports to India totalling almost $1 billion.

"We have a strong commercial relationship that should only get stronger as Indian farmers begin to see the value of potash in a balanced fertilizer application," Wall said in a statement. "Potash has helped Saskatchewan farmers become among the most productive farmers in the world and it can do the same for Indian farmers.”

Wall's itinerary in India included a visit to an agricultural business fair where he addressed 600 farmers on the importance of potash.

"India is a very important customer ... on a long-term basis they will be an important growth market," said Denita Stann, spokeswoman for Potash Corp. (TSX:POT).

Stann said Potash Corp. is the largest producer of potash in the world by capacity, after a flood at an OAO Uralkali mine in Russia halted operations there and led to the evacuation of workers. That mine reportedly contributed up three per cent of the global supply of potash.

"We certainly know they are experiencing some challenges with their mine, and that may certainly create some challenges on the supply side for that producer, but it's probably too early for us to speculate on what the outcome would be," Stann said.

A recent report by the Saskatchewan-Asia Advisory Council recommended that Saskatchewan triple its exports to Asia by 2020.

The council, formed in May 2013 to provide advice on Saskatchewan's trade with Asia, reports that Asian countries have the highest demand for provincial products.

It warned that Canada is lagging behind countries such as the United States, New Zealand and Australia.

The report said Saskatchewan's trade in 2013 with Asia was at an all-time high of $6.6 billion in exports to major partners such as India, Indonesia, China and Japan.