Hon. Alasiair Gillespie (Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce):
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to make a brief statement about the mission which I led to the U.S.S.R. between October 14 and 19 in connection with the Third Mixed Commission under our intergovernmental agreement on co-operation in the industrial application of science and technology. In addition, I would also like to report that after the mission to Moscow I visited Belgrade to sign the first bilateral trade agreement between Canada and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
During my stay in Belgrade I had discussions with a number of senior Yugoslavian officials, including Prime Minister Bijedich, Dr. Vratusha, Vice-President of the Federal Executive Council, and Dr. Ludwiger, the trade minister, on a wide range of questions affecting trade and economic relations between our two countries. Yugoslavia has become a promising market for Canadian manufactured goods and I look forward to further growth in this trade in the future.
These visits are part of a pattern to seek out new and promising trading opportunities for Canadian exporters.
Accompanying me on my visit to the U.S.S.R. were 36 senior Canadian industrialists representing a large number of companies. This is by far the largest delegation of businessmen a Canadian minister has led to the Soviet Union. This initiative on the part of the Canadian government highlights the business thrust of the activities which have been taking place under our agreement with the Soviet Union.
During the visit, Canadian businessmen associated with the eight working groups set up under the intergovernmental agreement held a large number of meetings, over 80, with their Soviet counterparts. We concluded, as page 4 of the protocol makes clear, that there were a number of important specific opportunities already under negotiation that should be continued and, indeed, some of the businessmen of the delegation remained in Moscow to carry out this work. There was a general consensus among the members of the delegation that the work of our mission represented an important step forward in Canada-Soviet trade and economic relations.
The Soviet Union is becoming an increasingly important market for high technology machinery and equipment
from western countries. I am convinced that there are significant opportunities for Canadian manufacturers to compete for this business. My department has been making vigorous efforts to ensure that Canadian exporters are placed in the best possible position to take advantage of these opportunities.
In addition to my discussions with L. N. Efremov, First Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Science and Technology, who led the Soviet delegation to the third meeting of the Mixed Commission, I had the opportunity to meet with the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, K. T. Mazurov, and other Soviet ministers and senior officials. In these discussions we agreed that there is substantial scope for expanding and diversifying Canada-Soviet trade.
Pursuant to Standing Order 41(2) I should like to place on the table of the House, in both official languages, the protocol which I signed on behalf of the Canadian government on Friday, October 19.
Subtopic: STATEMENT BY MINISTER ON MISSION TO SOVIET UNION AND VISIT TO YUGOSLAVIA