The Saskatchewan government's international footprint continues to grow as it plans to open a trade office in Berlin, Germany in the near future.
The trade office, the ninth for the province worldwide, fulfils an item in the provincial government's 2022 throne speech indicating the intention to establish an office in Germany. An order-in-council was signed last month that officially established the Berlin trade office.
"Since Germany is a manufacturing powerhouse and has the fourth largest economy in the world, setting up this office will provide exporters and investors with increased support to further navigate business opportunities and increase trade," a spokesperson for the provincial government said.
"Germany is a key member of the European Union, they host many of Europe's major trade fairs and exhibitions like AgriTechnica, a signature sales-focused event for Saskatchewan agriculture manufacturing sector."
The government statement said the war in Ukraine highlighted the need for "secure and stable food and energy products, particularly in the European Union."
Last March, Premier Scott Moe travelled to Germany to discuss food security and energy. His trip ended in Kassel, Germany where he visited Ukrainian refugees.
A few weeks later, MLA Terry Dennis (Canora-Pelly), who is also legislative secretary responsible for Saskatchewan- Ukraine relations, travelled with a delegation to Berlin.
The Saskatchewan government has rapidly accelerated its international trade offices in recent years. In 2010, the Shanghai, China office was first to open.
In 2021-22, the government opened offices in:
New Dehli, India.
Mexico City, Mexico.
Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE).
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The 2022-23 budget for the eight offices and the creation of the Berlin office is $12.4 million.
The government said its offices have played a role in getting memorandums of understanding and intent signed with government departments in India and UAE and securing deals for Saskatchewan businesses,
Moe currently in India
Premier Scott Moe is on a trade mission to India this week to "promote close ties between the two jurisdictions" in areas including critical mineral and natural resource development, agriculture and post-secondary education.
On Monday, Moe tweeted, "joined by Consul General of Canada in Mumbai, Diedrah Kelly, and her staff, we had a good discussion with many Indian investors with interests in Saskatchewan."
The government opened its New Delhi trade office in 2021.
"Saskatchewan has been working alongside India for many years, and I'm proud of the relationships we've built in that time," Moe said in a statement.
"I'm excited to share Saskatchewan's innovative solutions with India and focus on the trade and investment opportunities that exist now and into the future."
Last year, Saskatchewan sent $1.4 billion in exports to India. Saskatchewan lentils make up 50 per cent of that legume imported into India.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic and Canpotex are also part of the delegation in India.
Minister of Agriculture David Marit just returned after a nine-day trip to Dubai and Mumbai, India.
When asked about Moe's trip to India, Opposition NDP economy critic Aleana Young was critical of the government's economic record.
"Since Scott Moe took office, Saskatchewan has been dead last in Canada in terms of job growth. Full-time jobs, part-time jobs — whichever way you slice it — Scott Moe is shrinking our economy," Young said in a statement.
"We absolutely need to be selling our story to the world, but hardworking Saskatchewan families deserve to see results for all these Sask. Party trips."
According to the most recent figures released by the provincial government, it spent nearly $360,000 on out-of-province travel from Jan.1 to Sept. 30, 2022. The government posts ministerial travel expenses twice a year.
International travel accounted for more than half of the overall travel for 2022:
Premier Moe - Dubai ($65,006).
Premier Moe - London and Frankfurt ($60,836).
Min. Jeremy Harrison - New Delhi ($31,059).
Min. Harrison - Dubai and Abu Dhabi ($28,571).
Expenses for trips to the Philippines, Vietnam, France, and Germany in the fall and winter of 2022 have not been posted.
The last year of regular out-of-province ministerial travel was 2019 when the government spent more than $460,000.