Canada, Mongolia agree to deepen economic ties

OTTAWA — Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper and visiting Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold on Tuesday agreed to deepen their nations' economic ties, eventually opening free trade talks.

"Our countries are committed to developing our relationship," Harper said in a statement. "We look forward to further strengthening our ties, including cooperating on institutional reform and peace and security."

The two leaders signed memorandums of understanding to improve trade and market access, as well as strengthen both agricultural cooperation and Mongolia?s democratic governance and institutions.

As well, they agreed to fast-track negotiations on a deal to protect and promote foreign investment, holding a next round of talks by year end.

Ratification of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement "would be followed by bilateral exploratory discussions regarding a possible agreement on free trade," Harper's office said.

Canada is the second-largest overall foreign investor in Mongolia after China, with more than 600 million dollars invested in the country.

In 2009, two-way merchandise trade was valued at 164 million dollars.

On Wednesday, Batbold is to meet with Canada's treasury board and trade ministers, as well as business leaders.

Source: AFP (Agency France Presse-French News Service)
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