PM Harper celebrates Chinese New Year in Toronto
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper helped spur on the Year of the Horse at a gala put on by the Confederation of Greater Toronto Chinese Business Association on Feb 8 in Toronto. He used the occasion to announce that Asia — and especially China — will be the government’s trade priority in 2014.
According to Harper, the Canadian government has strengthened its relationship with Asia and has signed many agreements since 2006. Last year, Canada made the biggest ever free-trade agreement in principle with the EU. This year Canada will focus on boosting trade talk progress in Asia.
“We will continue to diversify our ethnic work markets. We have concluded the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China, and there is still much room to grow,” said Harper, who was joined by Jason Kenney, minister of employment and social development and minister for multiculturalism, and Chungsen Leung, parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism.
Following Harper’s two visits to China in 2009 and 2012, Canada has aggressively pursued trade with China. Trade Minister Ed Fast has called China Canada’s first priority in bilateral trade.
Bilateral trade between Canada and China hit $47.4 billion two years ago and topped $54.4 billion in 2013, making China the second largest trading partner and export destination for Canada.
“Many of the businesses here will benefit and contribute to the increased trade with China. Your continued successes, your entrepreneurs, your talents, your connections will help us boost trade throughout Asia, especially with China,” Harper told the group, which was mainly from the Chinese-Canadian business community.
The prime minister also mentioned Chinese railway workers’ contribution to the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway 100 years ago, which was fundamental in bringing the nation of Canada together. He also took a moment to honor Canadian figure skater Patrick Chan and others at the Sochi Olympics.
“During this exciting time, it is important that we recognize and appreciate the immense contributions made by the Chinese community to our country’s ongoing success and prosperity,” Harper said.
Responding to Harper’s remarks at the gala, Fang Li, consul general of China in Toronto, said he has witnessed the steady and rapid development of bilateral relations between China and Canada over the past several years.
“Even more exciting is that I have seen a soaring of Chinese investment in Canada over the last two years,” Fang added.
Chinese inbound investment to Canada amounts to around $20 billion, which brings jobs and development opportunities, particularly in western Canada. Sectors of interest include mining and oil and gas extraction, among others.
This year, the Prime Minister plans to visit China again for a third time, and he is expected to bring more concrete results back to Canada.
“I am well convinced that we will achieve the target set by our two leaders — that bilateral trade will exceed $60 billion by 2015,” Fang said.
of the businesses here will benefit and contribute to the increased trade
with China.” STEPHEN HARPER CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers a speech at a Chinese New Year gala in Toronto.