Saskatchewan to open trade offices as way to increase trade, increase population

SASKATOON — The Saskatchewan government says it will open trade offices in Japan, India and Singapore and is enlisting the help of former prime minister Stephen Harper.

The province hopes the offices will serve to strengthen trade relationships and increase exports of agricultural products, oil, potash and uranium.

The move is part of Premier Scott Moe’s overall plan to grow wealth in the province and increase the population to 1.4 million by 2030 from the current 1.1 million. The premier acknowledged the government has yet to reach a previous population target of 1.2 million.

Growing the province was highlighted as a priority in last month’s throne speech which opened the fall sitting of the legislature. A provincial election is set for next November.

“Growth is good. Growth supports the quality of life in our province,” Moe said in a speech Thursday to the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce. 

He said the province already has a trade office in Shanghai and is hiring the firm Harper and Associates for $240,000 to try to gain more access to Asian markets. The government estimates opening the three new offices will cost about $4.2 million in 2020-21.

Harper is to accompany a Saskatchewan trade delegation on an upcoming trip to India, Moe said.

“Saskatchewan is a world class exporter and a powerhouse in our confederation,” Harper said in a news release from the provincial government. “Its people and products can compete and win at home and around the world.”

Moe aims to create 100,000 new jobs in the province by 2030, increase the value of exports by 50 per cent and boost oil production by 25 per cent to 600,000 barrels a day.

The government has also said it will create tax incentives for agricultural technology and to support the production of chemical fertilizers. A $14-million provincial sales tax exemption is to be reinstated for exploratory and down-hole drilling to increase mining exploration.

Moe said Thursday that Saskatchewan will address climate change over the next decade by looking to carbon capture and storage technology and by increasing research efforts around small modular nuclear reactors.

“Nuclear power has to be deployed in a big way around this world if we are to reduce emissions in any significant way,” he said.

“Saskatchewan is well positioned to support more nuclear power, more global nuclear power with the largest reserves of high-grade uranium ore in the world and world-class companies that are already operating here.”

The possibility of bringing nuclear power to Saskatchewan is still years away.

After the throne speech in which the alternative power source was also touted, Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said Canada could see small modular nuclear technology before 2030, but it would be unlikely to be in Saskatchewan as the province doesn’t have any nuclear sites, unlike Ontario and New Brunswick.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 14, 2019.

— By Stephanie Taylor in Regina

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press