Address by His Excellency Alexander Darchiev, Ambassador of Russia to Canada, at the CERBA Eurasian Mining Conference 2017

(March 8, 2017, Toronto)

Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,

I am honored to extend greetings and welcome the participants of the annual International Mining Conference, organized by the Canada-Eurasia Russia Business Association.

In a time of growing uncertainties, both globally and regionally, it is especially important to maintain stable trade and investment climate, and it gives me special pleasure to praise CERBA for its tireless efforts to promote bilateral business ties, as well as encourage Canadian companies to explore new opportunities on a vast promising market of the Eurasian Economic Union.

Despite many bumps on the road, caused by the global economic disturbance coupled with falling prices for practically all mineral products, mining industries in Canada and Russia weathered the storm rather well.

While Canadian miners increased production of gold, uranium and copper ore, keeping stable the output of iron ore, their counterparts in Russia can register success as well; Russian companies increased their total output by 2 percent last year, with gold production reaching 293 tons, of which 10 percent are notably attributed to the mines, operated by a flagship mining company from Canada “Kinross Gold”. Quite impressive, I should say.

Mining industry, as one of economic drivers in both Russia and Canada, has contributed significantly to our respective economies. Notwithstanding negative trends, our principled choice to keep national economy open has allowed us to cope successfully with multiple challenges by improving investment climate, legal mechanisms, tax and anti-monopoly legislation. As a result, with inflationary spiral tamed on a low-record level of 5,4 percent, Russian government forecasts a GDP growth of around 2 percent and inflation of around 4 percent this year.

My colleagues from the Ministries of National Resources and Economic Development, from Russian Geology Agency, who are taking part in the conference, will surely tell you much more and in details about legislative novelties, regarding investment and better access to collected geological information, as well as the “Strategy of Mineral Resources Development”, which are guidelines currently being drafted by the Russian government.

It is also worth mentioning the creation of the integrated database
of geological information and fixing time limits with regard to its confidentiality; there is also an option to reduce taxable income by investing in geological prospecting.

New opportunities for Canadian business are opened with the expansion
of Eurasian Economic Union, which is a joint integration effort of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. It extends significantly national economies into a single market of 183 million people with no language barriers and with free flow of capital, goods and labor force.

On my part and on behalf of us, diplomats, whose job nowadays is as risky, as of miners digging deep, despite the threat of explosion or accident, I would like to confirm that politically every support and encouragement for more trade and investment will be gladly provided. Don’t be afraid to meet a foreign Ambassador, shake hands or talk with him, because it’s not a crime or even a misdemeanor in Russia or other countries of Eurasian Economic Union and, luckily, so far, in Canada.

Of course, it’ll be overly optimistic to expect a breakthrough in our bilateral relations under given circumstances, but highly welcoming is the recognition that Russia and Canada could and should engage, despite disagreements, in areas of common interest, like the Arctic. More business ties and anti-terror cooperation are also imperative, keeping in mind that divorcing politics and business is a win-win situation at a time, when protectionism threatens free trade, and expanding access to integrated markets, be it European Union or Euroasia, is critical.

So, I believe that together we can work for a positive change, for promoting bilateral trade, which is now below the potential that Russia and Canada share, circling around 1,2 billion US dollars, which is three times less than the year 2008 maximum of 3,2 billion USD. Praising mining companies for their successful operations in Russia, “Kinross Gold”, “Silver Bear Resources” and “Global Cobalt”, it is high time to call for reinstating instruments of financial and insurance support, once provided to Canadian exporters through EDC.

By closing my remarks, I would like to wish all participants fruitful discussions, mutually beneficial solutions and, most importantly, good luck in the implementation of your projects.

Me and my colleagues at the Embassy and Russian Trade Mission in Ottawa will continue to remain attentive to your ideas and proposals, being open and always ready to assist you in coming to Russia and Eurasian Economic Union, and in finding true partners there. We strongly recommend to put on your radar screens St. Petersburg International Forum, which will take place in June, and the Eastern Economic Forum to be held in Vladivostok in September.

Thank you.

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