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11 Dec 2009

Russian mission generates spin-offs for Québec companies

Jean Charest with Viktor Zubkov, First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, on December 8.

Premier Jean Charest and his Minister of International Relations and Minister responsible for La Francophonie, Pierre Arcand, are pleased by the results of their mission to Russia. They both painted a bright picture of the economic, political and institutional meetings they took part in from December 7 to 11 in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Economy

From the economic viewpoint, the mission was a chance for Québec companies such as MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) and Advantech AMT to sign agreements in principle with Russian partners, worth a total of over $150 million. It also opened doors for other Québec businesses, which are now well positioned to win contracts in Russia. Rosemex, for example, will soon be submitting energy efficiency projects to the City of Moscow.

In the words of Premier Charest, “The mission has been an opportunity to promote Québec companies and know-how. Despite the challenges it entails, Russia is a priority market for the Government of Québec. The country is a fast-emerging economic power and has major needs when it comes to modernizing its economy and infrastructure. In this context, Québec and Russia can profit from working together. Indeed, a major first step has been made in this direction, with the signing of a joint cooperation agreement with the Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov. We want to lay the foundation for a long-term relationship between Russia and Québec.”

Political meetings

The mission was also an opportunity for Jean Charest and Pierre Arcand to meet certain Russian Federation ministers, starting with the First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Viktor Zubkov, Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina and Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin. During their stop in Saint Petersburg, the Québec delegation led by Premier Charest met with Alexander Vakhmistrov, Deputy Governor of Saint Petersburg, and Valery Serdyukov, Governor of the Leningrad Region. These meetings were an opportunity for the delegation to send a clear signal to the Russian authorities that Québec wants to build long-term economic ties with the Russian Federation.

Premier Charest and Minister Arcand took advantage of the mission to attend a performance of Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai, a huge success in Moscow. According to Pierre Arcand, “This success symbolizes Quebecers’ ability to have an impact on the world stage, not only from the cultural perspective, but also from the institutional and economic viewpoints.”

Northern development

As Québec and Russia share the challenge of developing their vast northern territories, Premier Charest profited from his trip to explain Québec’s Northern Plan. He met with people from Russian institutions and businesses during a seminar and gave a speech at the prestigious Saint Petersburg State Mining Institute, Russia’s oldest engineering university, during which he described the common challenges that Québec and Russia face in the areas of mining and northern development.

Jean Charest also visited the Moscow-Québec Centre at the Russian State University for the Humanities. Since its creation ten years ago the Centre has enabled 300 university students to take part in academic exchanges between Québec and Russia.
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