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Energy and Resources Canada set to announce new trade promotion agreements with Cameroon, Zambia

Minister of International Trade Ed Fast talks to reporters following meetings with provincial and territorial trade ministers in Ottawa on Feb. 28, 2012.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada will announce agreements on Monday designed to help promote trade with Cameroon and Zambia, home to iron ore and copper and other mineral deposits, attracting the attention of some of the world's largest miners.

The so-called foreign investment promotion and protection agreements, known as FIPAs, are designed to help protect Canadian investment abroad through legally binding provisions and to promote foreign investment in Canada.

"Our government is helping create jobs, growth and prosperity for families in every region of our country by ensuring investments by Canadian businesses are protected abroad," Mr. Ed Fast, minister of international trade and minister for the Asia-Pacific gateway, said in a statement regarding the announcement.

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The FIPAs are meant to give businesses greater confidence to invest at a time when resource nationalism has become one of the leading concerns of the global mining industry. The trend became especially pronounced in recent years as emerging nation's sought to renegotiate terms of mining investments in the wake of booming prices for metals like gold and copper, trading several times where they were a few years ago even.

Mr. Fast is to formally announce the conclusion of FIPA negotiations with Cameroon and Zambia on Monday at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) international mining convention.

Canadian companies are heavily invested in the two countries, to the tune more than $6-billion in Zambia and $35-million in Cameroon.

In 2011, Barrick Gold Corp., the world's largest gold company and one of Canada's largest miners, spent $7.3-billion on the acquisition of Zambia-focused Equinox Minerals as it pursued assets in the African nation's rich copper belt.

Canada has 24 FIPAs in force around the world. It has also concluded the agreements with Benin, Madagascar, Mali, Senegal and Tanzania and is pursuing FIPAs with Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Tunisia.

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