Alberta will have a permanent presence in the United Arab Emirates starting early next year in an effort to ramp up trade.

The province signed a three-year contract with the Canada-United Arab Emirates Business Council (CUBC), which will be responsible for trade promotion, organizing trade missions and helping Canadian investors navigate opportunities in places including Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

It’s a similar model used for establishing the San Francisco trade office, and will cost about $200,000 per year, said Trade Minister Deron Bilous.

He added it will make Alberta the second province after Ontario to have boots on the ground in UAE to build trade partnerships.

Alberta has established relationships with UAE companies already — in 2017, the province exported $257.3 million worth of goods there, making the UAE the sixth-ranked country to receive provincial exports. Canola and wheat accounted for the bulk of that trade.

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