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TORONTO, April 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Canadian businesses are interested in making investments in Russia and for these ends think that the Canadian government’s sanctions against Russia should not affect business interests, Mark Trevisiol, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian mining company Silver Bear Resources, told ITAR-TASS on Tuesday.
Trevisiol said his company had close contacts with Russia’s Siberian republic of Yakutia and personally with Yakutia’s head Yegor Borisov. The company, in his words, was carrying out prospective works at the Mangazeiskoye silver field and planned to begin silver production in the next few years. He stressed he believed that political problems must not impact business relations between the two countries.
In late March, Canadian companies doing business in Russia asked the government of their country to take into account their interests when imposing sanctions against Russia. They said they were afraid Russia could take some reciprocal steps. Among those who signed the appeal were CEOs of Silver Bear Resources and Kinross Gold Corp engaged in gold mining in Russia’s Far Eastern Chukotka.
Trevisiol, along with other Canadian businessmen, met with Russian Ambassador Georgy Mamedov in Toronto on Tuesday. The meeting was organized by Empire Club of Canada and the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association.
In March, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper suspended all bilateral contacts between the Canadian armed forces and the Russian military and Canada’s participation in the bilateral intergovernmental economic commission that is tasked to promote economic ties between Canada and Russia. Ottawa also expelled from the country nine Russian army officers who stayed in Canada under the exchange program between the two countries’ defense ministries. On March 7, Harper announced visa sanctions against a number of Russian officials over the developments in Ukraine. In early April, Ottawa decided not to take part in a number of meetings of the Arctic Council.
Canadian businessmen worried about sanctions
Canadian businesses do not plan to wind up or shrink their activities in Russia, Russian Ambassador to that country Georgy Mamedov told ITAR-TASS after a meeting with Canadian businessmen in Toronto on Tuesday.
“Canada’s business community is now worried over two things,” he said. “First, if the situation in Ukraine further aggravates, Canada, like other Western countries, might respond by restricting any business contacts with Russia, which, in turn, would create an absolutely abnormal situation for investors willing to work on the Russian market. Second, they are worried over possible sanctions Russia might impose in response.”
A new wave of Western sanctions might affect the banking system and Canadian businessmen are afraid of that, Mamedov noted. “I reassured them saying we do not want to undermine the basis of our mutually beneficial relations we have been building for decades, so we do not plan to take any decision that might affect businesses,” the Russian diplomat stressed. “After the meeting, all our key partners gave to understand they did not want to withdraw from Russia but they were still worried.”
According to the Russian ambassador, businessmen active in the mining sector, farming and aviation industry were worried most over possible new sanctions that might impact the business community. “For instance, Kinross Gold Corp has recently invested $300 million in gold production in Russia’s Far Eastern Chukotka region, Bombardier plans to set up an aviation centre in Kazan, Canadian meat companies are interested to sell their products on the Russian market,” he said.