Canada keen to explore opportunities for cooperation, says envoy

(From left) Senior trade commissioner Mark Strasser, St George and political counsellor Timothy Mackey at the press conference.

KUCHING: Canada is keen to explore opportunities for greater cooperation with Sarawak in trade, education and other areas of mutual interest.

Canada’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Judith St George said there was potential for collaboration in Sarawak, which would strengthen the growing relationship between Canada and the state.

“We trade a lot with Sarawak. For instance when you look at your plantation sector, it requires a lot of fertiliser and about a third of that comes from Canada,” she told a press conference ahead of the Canada Day celebration here.

She said the energy sector and green technology were other potential areas for further cooperation.

“We are experts in hydro and there’s a lot of hydro here. We’ve had Canadian companies have been working in the hydro sector here for many years.

“We have commitments for greening technology to make things more efficient and we think there is a lot of opportunity there for collaboration.”

In education, the High Commission will explore opportunities to work with the Kuching Canadian Graduates Association to encourage more Sarawakians to study in Canada.

“Hundreds of Sarawakians were educated in Canada under the Colombo Plan and various other scholarships,” St George said.

She said Canada was also looking for opportunities for collaboration on the environment, including protecting Malaysia’s biodiversity, preserving forest cover, technology transfer and capacity building initiatives in renewable energy, energy efficiency and water and wastewater technologies.

This was in line with Canada’s priority in taking action on climate change, she said.

St George said another key Canadian priority with relevance to Sarawak was indigenous issues.

“Canada is committed to resetting the relationship with its indigenous peoples, including by implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and engaging with domestic and international indigenous partners,” she said.

She also said Canada’s relationship with Sarawak went back a long way, although the links were not always apparent.

“There is Canada Hill in Miri, which is widely believed to be the birthplace of Malaysia’s oil and gas industry. In Canada there is a Township of Sarawak in Ontario and that goes back to 1857.

“There is also a Mount Brooke in Yukon Territory named after William Brooke, a Canadian soldier in World War I who was the greatgrandnephew of Sir James Brooke,” she said.

Senior trade commissioner Mark Strasser said this was the first time the High Commission had hosted Canada Day celebrations in Sarawak. “It is an opportunity for us to get to a part of the country that’s growing fast. You have a chief minister who is making significant economic development plans,” he said.

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