China and oil-rich Canada, in line with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plans to diversify trade, signed nine agreements Wednesday.
The agreements concluded in the presence of Harper and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao include energy as energy-hungry China seeks to increase energy and resource imports, China Daily reported.
The agreements also cover development of natural resources and Canadian beef and tallow exports to China.
Wen urged the early signing of an investment protection agreement and said the two sides could step up discussions on the feasibility of a free-trade agreement, the newspaper said.
Harper, who also wants to create more jobs, was accompanied by a large delegation, including 40 business leaders, on his five-day China trip.
China is Canada's second-largest trading partner -- the United States is the biggest -- with bilateral trade reaching nearly $50 billion, up $6 billion from 2009. The two sides want to increase it to $60 billion by 2015, the newspaper said.
"The agreements being signed today, over such a wide range of areas, are further testimony that we are taking relations to the next level and further strengthening our strategic partnership," Harper said in a statement.
China Daily quoted analysts as saying Harper wants to push oil sales and closer economic ties following the U.S. rejection of a pipeline carrying Canadian oil southward due to environmental concerns.
"Diversifying our markets is a key priority for Canada," Harper was quoted as telling Wen. "We look forward to expanding our cooperation in any important areas, including energy, natural resources, tourism and education."
Canada's oil reserves are estimated at 170 billion barrels. Much of that is currently shipped to the United States, reports said.
Xia Yishan, energy expert at China Institute of International Studies, told China Daily China also needs to diversify its energy imports. About 70 percent currently come from the Middle East and North Africa.