BC find­ing new mar­ket in China

Qing­dao ex­pected to work with prov­ince on marine sci­ence, tech

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By MAYA LIU in Van­cou­ver For China Daily

Bri­tish Columbia, long a trade part­ner with China, has found a new city to do business with there.

Teresa Wat, the Cana­dian prov­ince’s min­is­ter of in­ter­na­tional trade, Asia-Pa­cific strat­egy and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, dis­cussed the new co­op­er­a­tion be­tween B.C. and the city of Qing­dao in Shan­dong prov­ince.

The coastal city has the third-largest port in China, and there is a lot of space for co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two na­tions in marine sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, agri­cul­ture, in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion and clean tech­nol­ogy, she said.

Wat said that one of the ma­jor achieve­ments of her mid-Novem­ber trip was a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MOU) she reached on an eco­nomic part­ner­ship with Qing­dao.

“It’s Qing­dao’s first eco­nomic part­ner­ship agree­ment with a Cana­dian ju­ris­dic­tion,” Wat said.

More business deals are ex­pected be­tween Qing­daobased com­pa­nies and BC busi­nesses.

In 2013, BC’s ex­ports to China were val­ued at more than $68 bil­lion, ac­count­ing for 30 per­cent of all Cana­dian trade with China. China is also the prov­ince’s sec­ond-largest trad­ing part­ner in the world.

The eco­nomic and job op­por­tu­ni­ties that China of­fers for B.C. are im­mense. On a state level, China is now in­di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for about 500,000 Cana­dian jobs, and as BC’s trade vol­ume with China con­tin­ues to rise, var­i­ous sec­tors, in­clud­ing in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion, tech­nol­ogy, tourism, forestry, min­ing, en­ergy and liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas (LNG) al­ready are ben­e­fit­ing or will ben­e­fit soon from the in­creas­ing num­ber of in­vest­ment ties.

The min­is­ter’s re­cently con­cluded trade mis­sion to China, Ja­pan and South Korea was geared to­ward strength­en­ing the re­la­tion­ship with BC’s key Asian mar­kets, and at the same time form­ing the new tie with Qing­dao.

“The trade mis­sion gave us an op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue at­tract­ing in­vest­ment, gen­er­at­ing B.C. business op­por­tu­ni­ties and pro­mot­ing ex­ports that help cre­ate jobs for all Bri­tish Columbians,” Wat said.

Del­e­gates from more than 50 BC business and or­ga­ni­za­tions joined Wat on the trip to China, and they met with Chi­nese gov­ern­ment min­istries and pri­vate com­pa­nies’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Wat said the key mar­kets in China de­serve a lot of at­ten­tion and sin­cer­ity. As chal­lenges may be un­avoid­able in any trade re­la­tion­ships, Wat pointed out that “one of the best ways to over­come th­ese chal­lenges and im­prove bi­lat­eral re­la­tions is to meet with other gov­ern­ments in per­son”.

Mu­tual agree­ments could be reached more eas­ily as B.C. has deep his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural ties with China. B.C. has a 20-year sis­ter-prov­ince re­la­tion­ship with China’s Guang­dong prov­ince; and 11 per­cent of Bri­tish Columbians to­day can trace their fam­ily roots to China, in­clud­ing Wat her­self.

Wat said that Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Steven Harper’s re­cent state visit to China also re­sulted in agree­ments be­tween the two na­tions.

The most an­tic­i­pated was a re­cip­ro­cal cur­rency deal be­tween China and Canada. As the first off­shore ren­minbi set­tle­ment cen­ter is set to be es­tab­lished in Canada, costs of business trans­ac­tions be­tween Chi­nese and Cana­dian busi­nesses will go down sig­nif­i­cantly.

“A Cana­dian ren­minbi trad­ing hub not only ben­e­fits BC, but all of Canada, by mak­ing it eas­ier for Cana­dian busi­nesses to do business in China,” Wat said.

Another thing that at­tracted a lot of at­ten­tion is that Harper be­gan his China trip by meet­ing Chi­nese en­tre­pre­neur Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group Hold­ing Lt. Ma said dur­ing their meet­ing that he was con­sid­er­ing open­ing an of­fice in Van­cou­ver.

“At­tract­ing in­no­va­tive, dy­namic com­pa­nies such as Alibaba to B.C. is what this min­istry was de­signed to do and we look for­ward to work­ing with the company to bring this to fruition,” Wat said. She said also she hoped to work with Alibaba to fur­ther ex­pand B.C.’s agri­cul­ture and seafood ex­ports.

Harper also made an an­nounce­ment dur­ing his visit to China that four new Cana­dian trade of­fices will be opened in the Chi­nese ci­ties of Hangzhou, Xi’an, Xi­a­men and Tian­jin, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of re­gional Cana­dian trades of­fices in China to 15 – more than in any other coun­try.

“We are al­ready see­ing the ben­e­fits of (es­tab­lish­ing trade and in­vest­ment of­fices in China),” said Wat. For ex­am­ple, the num­ber of tourists from China who vis­ited B.C. went up 21 per­cent in 2013, and that has ei­ther di­rectly or in­di­rectly ben­e­fited the ap­prox­i­mately 18,000 tourism-re­lated busi­nesses in BC.

Another deal signed was the ex­pan­sion of the Tran­sit with­out Visa Pro­gram and the China Tran­sit Pro­gram.

“Adding another air­line (China South­ern Air­lines) to the pro­gram will in­crease the op­tions for Chi­nese trav­el­ers to ac­cess the United States,” said Wat, and th­ese ad­di­tional trav­el­ers will also help to en­sure flights con­nect­ing China and Van­cou­ver “are eco­nom­i­cally vi­able”. Con­tact the writer chi­nadaily.com.cn

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Teresa Wat,

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