Abbotsford MP and Minister of Trade Ed Fast poses with Bangassi Joseph Mario Bakosoro

Abbotsford MP and Minister of Trade Ed Fast poses with Bangassi Joseph Mario Bakosoro

Fast talks trade possibilities with South Sudan representatives

Delegation from South Sudan in Abbotsford on Friday as part of four-day tour.

A delegation from South Sudan met with Abbotsford MP and Minister of Trade Ed Fast in his Clearbrook Road office on Friday morning.

The group, led by Bangassi Joseph Mario Bakosoro, Governor of Western Equatoria State in South Sudan, is in Canada on a four-day trip.

South Sudan achieved its independence from Sudan in 2011.

Fast said South Sudan is a country that has significant struggles, challenges and significant poverty but is also rich in natural resources and human resources.

“They are looking to Canada as one of the their valued partners to help them build their economy,” said Fast, adding the brief meeting was held to “talk about some of the ways we can collaborate.”

Canada is looking for both trade and investment opportunities.

Fast said Canada is a world leader in things such as infrastructure, energy development, mining, oil and gas and education.

“Without education, South Sudan cannot move forward,” said Fast. “We believe we can actually serve Sudan by establishing strategic partnerships with them on the educational front.”

He also believes Canada would be the right trade partner for the new country.

“Unlike perhaps some of the other countries around the world that may be interested in investing in South Sudan, Canada is a country that wants to do investment ethically.”

He said Canada expects its companies that invest abroad and make profit to reinvest in the communities in which they do business.

South Sudan and the state of Western Equatoria are rich in resources, which presents a number of investment and trade opportunities for Canadian companies.

Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and the formerly united Sudan (including South Sudan) exceeded $221.3 million in 2012.

Top Canadian merchandise exports to the formerly united Sudan include cereals, dairy products, machinery, and electronic machinery and equipment.

The top Canadian merchandise imports from Sudan are precious stones and metals, and seeds and miscellaneous plants.

There are more than 16,000 Canadians of South Sudanese and Sudanese descent.