Urgent Need to Expand Canada-Asia Energy Relations, Finds APF Canada Opinion Poll

Vancouver, B.C. – September 7, 2011 – The trade and investment potential to expand Canada’s energy relationship with Asia is significant, but the window of opportunity will not last forever. Indeed 71% of respondent believe that Canada needs to act now to take advantage of the growing demand from Asia before it’s too late. This is one of the main messages from the latest opinion panel report on Energy Issues in Canada-Asia Relations published today by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

“Canada has hitherto had a very narrow energy relationship with Asia, consisting mostly of inbound investment. There is an urgent need to broaden the relationship to include exports of oil and gas, exchange of expertise on green energy, and two-way investment,” said Mr. Yuen Pau Woo, President and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. “We cannot take for granted that these opportunities are indefinite.”

The Points of View Asia-Pacific opinion poll is the first to survey Canadians who are engaged with Asia through professional interests. The most notable opportunities for Canada to enhance its energy relationship with Asia lies in the areas of sharing energy-related expertise (74%), exporting energy products (73%), and increasing Asian investment in Canada (69%), according to this group of Canadians.

Nearly 77% of respondents agreed that a national energy strategy needs to be led by the federal government in collaboration with the provinces. Top policy attention with Asian countries on the energy front should be given to the renewable energy sector, particularly the promotion of technological exchanges (82%). Among various policy recommendations, green policy initiatives were viewed as important to expanding the Canada-Asia energy relationship. These include encouraging energy efficiency and conservation (93%), developing initiatives to encourage Canadian companies to innovate in renewable energy technology and products (82%), and promoting Canada in Asia as a leader in clean energy technology (83%).

With respect to the export of Canadian energy products, natural gas (76%) was ranked as the highest priority, followed by renewable energy (69%), and oil (67%). Three-quarters of respondents support the building of pipelines to transport gas and oil to the west coast for subsequent shipment to Asia. Indeed, nearly 70 percent of respondents believe that Canada should quickly build the infrastructure needed to transport energy products to Asia so as to avoid a lost opportunity. However, only 63% support LNG tankers entering the waters off the west coast and barely half support allowing crude oil tankers on the west coast.

Important barriers still exist and need to be overcome before Canada will be able to take full advantage of a strong energy relationship with Asia. In particular, Canadians engaged in Asia saw the inadequate knowledge and appreciation amongst Canadians of the internal social, political, and cultural dynamics of Asian markets (63%) as a key obstacle.

With respect to views on Asian investment in Canada’s energy sector generally, Asia practitioners in Canada feel it is more important to focus on the social and economic benefits this investment can bring to Canada (66%) rather than worry about foreign threats to ownership of Canada’s natural resources (25%). Among the countries in which respondents would welcome foreign direct investment in Canada’s energy sector, Japan (76%) and South Korea (71%), topped the list, higher than US (63%) and France (61%). Only 57% supported Chinese foreign direct investment.

The full survey results on energy issues in Canada-Asia relations, can be viewed here.

The Points of View Asia-Pacific is an opinion panel of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada comprised of 645 individuals who are connected to or engaged in Asia through professional, interests. It is a unique medium through which Canada’s growing community of Asia practitioners can voice their opinions and views on policy issues of the day that relate to Canada’s relations with Asia. Surveys on issues related to Canada-Asia relations will be issued on a quarterly basis. Data was collected between August 26 – September 3, 2011 with a total of 137 people completing all or part of the survey questionnaire. The margin of error for the total sample of 137 is ±8.4%, 19 times out of 20. For more information on the profile of Points of View Asia-Pacific panel members, click here.

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About APF Canada

The Asia Pacific Foundation is an independent resource for Canadians on contemporary Asia and Canada-Asia relations. As a national not-for-profit organization established by an Act of the Federal Parliament in 1984, the Foundation brings together people and knowledge to provide the most current and comprehensive research, analysis and information on Asia and on Canada's transpacific relations. It promotes dialogue on economic, security, political and social issues, helping to inform public policy, the Canadian public and Canada’s Asia practitioners. The Foundation is funded principally through an endowment from the Government of Canada and by corporate and individual donors.

 

For additional information, please contact:

Trang Nguyen
Communications Manager
Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
Tel: 604-630-1540
Email: trang.nguyen@asiapacific.ca

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