During his official visit to Canada Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov will discuss a wide range of questions pertaining to Russian-Canadian collaboration. RIA Novosti was told at the Canadian embassy in Moscow that the political dialogue between the two sides can be assessed as "very good": the sides do not have any serious differences, on the contrary the coincidence of views and interests is being observed. The negotiations in Ottawa are expected to touch upon the struggle against terrorism, the situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East. The sides will also discuss questions of preparation for the regular G-8 summit to be held in Canada which will become chairman of this informal association in 2002. At the same time, according to sources in the Russian government, the economic potential of cooperation with Canada is far from being realised. The trade turnover between the two countries on the results of 2000 made up 582.4 million dollars, or 10 percent more than in 1999. The volume of the Russian exports amounted to 480.2 million dollars, and the Canadian imports -- to 134.2 million dollars. Over the first six months of this year the trade turnover made up 226.1 million dollars, but the Russian exports diminished over this period by 32 percent and amounted to 125.8 million dollars, and the Canadian imports grew by 75 percent to reach 100 million dollars. Experts believe that trade barriers established by the Canadian side explain this in many respects. Despite the fact that the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency recognized the market nature of the Russian steel and foundry industry back in 1999, the enhanced duties were established on the steel sheet, hot-rolled steel and cold-rolled steel from Russia. The losses of Russian exporters are estimated at 130 million dollars. The total volume of Canadian investments in the Russian economy amounts to 120 million dollars. Canada holds the 19th place among foreign investors, its share in the volume of foreign investments in Russia is less than 0.5 percent with 54 percent of them going to the mining industry, 27 percent to the oil and gas sector, 11 percent to building and food industries each. A sub-commission and working groups on such directions as agro-industrial complex, construction, fuel and energy complex, mining industry, the Arctic and the North, have been established within the framework of the Russian-Canadian inter-governmental commission on trade and economic cooperation. The creation of the working body for cooperation in aerospace sphere is being discussed. The sides consider the possibility of building Russian Mi-29 helicopters and Tu-114 planes using Canadian engines. The dialogue is being intensified. Over the past year 10 Canadian ministers visited Russia, and six Russian ministers visited Canada. The conversation will continue in February 2002 when Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien will arrive in Moscow accompanied by a group of senators and representatives of several hundreds of Canadian companies. The present visit of Mikhail Kasyanov to Canada is very important. A high-ranking official at the Canadian embassy said that Canada stake its interests on Russia.
As November 4 approaches (on this day, Russia and Belarus are to sign union programs), disputes between supporters and opponents of the integration become increasingly heated