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Arcitc Yearbook 2012
Though no agreement has taken place as yet, the potential exists for a revenue sharing accord in
exchange for high-tech forecasting and navigational assistance.
Collaborative infrastructures have also been built into long-term strategic economic plans to
promote the Arctic as a cost-effective alternative to trans-Pacific trade with East Asia. Canada and
Russia are working toward a significant expansion of the ‘Arctic Bridge,’ a trans-polar multimodal
transportation system connecting North America with China and India by way of Russia. Canada
and Russia are already engaging in maritime trade along the Churchill-Murmansk sea route, and both
countries have recently made investments in expanding not only trade volume, but also the role and
scope of trans-Arctic trade within the global trade network. On the Canadian side, the CentrePort
Canada project (Gray, 2010) aims to transform Winnipeg into an “inland port” serving not only as a
midpoint for Canadian east-west trade, but also as the west-Arctic termination of the Arctic Bridge
air and sea routes (by way of Churchill) (Figure 2, below). By capitalizing on its location in the
geographic center of North America, Winnipeg would serve as a distribution center shuttling goods
north to Churchill for sea export, as well as a primary hub for air cargo to Russia and China. Russia is
investing as much as $800 million US to upgrade airport facilities in Krasnoyarsk as its Arctic Bridge
air gateway (Gray, 2010), and will continue to receive and distribute intercontinental cargo through
its largest Arctic seaport at Murmansk.
Unlike the previously cited examples, infrastructural development of the Arctic Bridge is coming
primarily from within states rather than as international collaborations. However, the economic
benefits Canada and Russia stand to gain from independently developing their trade infrastructures
are predicated on continued stable diplomatic relations and a mutual desire to promote the Arctic as
a fully integrated arena of global trade. Conceiving CentrePort Canada as an international project
would have made little sense without commensurate investments in rail and port upgrades within
Russia and between Russia and China, and Russia only stands to gain from the expanded North
American market penetration that CentrePort Canada affords. By building their infrastructures
toward an intercontinental trade system, Canada and Russia are collaborating on long-term economic
strategy, a strong sign of amicable, even harmonious, future Arctic geopolitics.