Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper announced the successful completion of negotiations on the agreement during a visit to China that has also seen the signature of numerous joint initiatives and the renewal of existing bilaterals in energy, natural resources, education, science and technology, and agriculture.
The new protocol will supplement an existing nuclear cooperation agreement between the Chinese and Canadian governments, signed in 1994. Its text will be finalised by the two countries’ representatives over the next few months with a view to proceeding with the relevant adoption processes as soon as possible. Harper said the new protocol would help Canadian uranium companies to “substantially increase” exports to the fast-growing Chinese market.
According to a statement issued by Harper’s office, the new protocol will be a legally binding instrument that will “govern and facilitate” the export of Canadian uranium to China, “supporting China’s energy needs and Canada’s long-term economic interests.”
Although Canadian uranium company Cameco has signed long-term uranium supply deals with China in the past, trade restrictions have meant that it has had to source the material from non-Canadian operations. The new protocol, according to the governmental statement, will be in full accordance with Canadian nuclear non-proliferation policies and obligations, ensuring that uranium supplied by Canada to China will only be used for peaceful, civilian purposes.
Denise Carpenter, president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association, hailed the announcement as “good news for Canada’s nuclear industry,” saying the broadening of the existing Sino-Canadian agreement would mean hundreds of new jobs in Canada.