PM Harper cel­e­brates Chi­nese New Year in Toronto

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI NA in Toronto re­nali@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

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.

M‘any‘

of the businesses here will ben­e­fit and con­trib­ute to the in­creased trade

with China.” STEPHEN HARPER CANA­DIAN PRIME MIN­IS­TER

JILL THOMP­SON / FOR CHINA DAILY

Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper de­liv­ers a speech at a Chi­nese New Year gala in Toronto.

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