Petronas strengthens Canada-Malaysia ties

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - Malaysia is now the largest foreign direct investor in Canada following the confirmation of Petronas' C$36 billion (S$43 billion) liquefied natural gas (LNG) export business project in the country.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak confirmed this after a bilateral meeting with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper yesterday.

The one-hour closed door meeting was held at the Prime Minister's office here. Harper arrived here on Friday for a three-day visit.

Najib said Malaysia was pleased with the Canadian government's approval of Petronas' earlier investment of C$5bil (RM15.3bil) in Progress Energy Canada, which was a significant investment for Malaysia in Canada.

"We are confident in the policies of the Canadian government and saw a wealth of opportunities in opening up the country's energy industry to new markets.

"There is a 30-year timeline for the C$36bil investment and Petronas is very positive about this decision," he told a joint press conference after the meeting.

Progress Energy Canada, formed after Petronas bought over Progress Energy Resources Corp last December, will undertake the project known as Pacific Northwest LNG which has been designed to capitalise on Asia's growing demand for LNG by tapping into the abundant supply of cheap and land-locked natural gas in Canada.

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), Najib said he expected it to take a longer time to be concluded than the initial year-end timeline.

"The end of the year is very tight timeline. We (countries involves in TPPA) will have our discussions in Bali and have a sense of whether that timetable is feasible.

"But our sense is that it (TPPA conclusion) may take longer than the end of the year," he said.

Harper, meanwhile said Petronas' huge investment gave a positive indication that the oil giant was looking for further investments in Canada.

"We are really excited about the possibility. We also had talks on the energy sector," he said.

Both leaders also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on an international security programme between Malaysia and Canada and a Declaration of Intent for a new agreement to avoid double taxation, and to prevent fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

The MoU was signed by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman and his Canadian counterpart John Baird.