Harper looks to Asian energy markets after Keystone delay

Prime Minister Stephen Harper tells U.S. President Barack Obama at the APEC summit that Canada will look for new markets in Asia for oil and gas, now that the Keystone pipeline has been delayed.

U.S. pipeline delay shows Canada must seek new markets, PM tells Obama

Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with U.S. President Barack Obama at the 2011 APEC Summit in Hawaii on Sunday. Obama has invited Harper to Washington for a meeting in December. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told U.S. President Barack Obama at the APEC summit on Sunday that Canada will look for new markets in Asia for its oil and gas, now that the Keystone pipeline has been delayed for more than a year.

Harper made Canada's disappointment in the delay clear when the two leaders sat down for almost 30 minutes at the summit in Hawaii.

All of Canada's oil and gas exports currently go south of the border, and Keystone would transport crude from the oilsands to Texas. Now, however, Harper says the U.S. decision has left him no choice.

"I did indicate to him, as I did to the president of China yesterday [Saturday], as our government has indicated, this highlights why Canada must increase its efforts to make sure it can supply its energy outside of the United States and into Asia in particular," Harper said.

To that end, the prime minister will visit China sometime next year. As well, Canada has decided to signal formally that it is interested in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a group of Asian countries that aims to boost trade and lower tariffs in the Asia-Pacific region.

The United States has also discussed joining the TPP.

Previously, there has been resistance to Canada's participation, because of its staunch protection of the dairy, poultry and egg sectors. Harper now says he feels Canada can do both.

"We're constantly in trade talks, but I continue to believe we can advance our interests and at the same time protect our interests in those agricultural sectors," he said.

Harper to discuss border security deal with Obama 

According to the White House account of the meeting, Obama said he supported the decision to delay TransCanada's Keystone XL project "to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood."

During a bilateral meeting on Saturday, Chinese President Hu Jintao noted with approval Harper's attempts to reach out, and invited him to visit next year.

"You have repeatedly stated that you attach importance to our relationship and that you hope to forge an even closer relationship with China," the Chinese president said. "I appreciate that position."

Harper also signalled that a border security deal with the U.S. is nearing conclusion. He announced that he'll visit Obama in December and the deal will be part of their discussions

The "Beyond the Border" deal was announced with much fanfare nine months ago as a way to continue to secure the borders but not choke off vital trade.

"It will be a very comprehensive package when it is announced," Harper said. 

With files from Susan Lunn in Honolulu and The Canadian Press