Canada’s China trade needs boost, fo­rum says

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI NA in Toronto re­nali@chi­nadai­

The fast-grow­ing Si­noCana­dian trade and calls to strengthen eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries were the main top­ics at a fo­rum of Chi­nese and Cana­dian of­fi­cials, ex­perts on pol­icy re­search and anal­y­sis, en­trepreneurs and in­vestors.

In a key­note ad­dress to the nearly 200 peo­ple who at­tended the fo­rum, Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to Canada Luo Zhaohui pointed out that Sino-Cana­dian trade re­la­tions have de­vel­oped rapidly in re­cent years, es­pe­cially with the For­eign In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion and Pro­tec­tion Agree­ment (FIPA) be­tween Canada and China that took ef­fect Oct 1.

“I am most happy to see the out­come of our joint ef­forts,” said Luo, who took of­fice in Ot­tawa in May. “It is amaz­ing that we have made sub­stan­tial achieve­ments and sig­nif­i­cant progress in a short pe­riod of six months, in par­tic­u­lar with our fi­nan­cial co­op­er­a­tion that is mov­ing quickly beyond all ex­pec­ta­tions.”

At the Canada- China In­vest­ment Pro­tec­tion and Business Co­op­er­a­tion Fo­rum on Mon­day in Toronto, Am­bas­sador Luo also pro­posed fur­ther strength­en­ing Sino-Cana­dian eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and close bi­lat­eral eco­nomic part­ner­ship, in­clud­ing pro­mot­ing the Canada Free Trade Agree­ment, fi­nan­cial co­op­er­a­tion, en­ergy co­op­er­a­tion, the es­tab­lish­ment in off­shore en­ergy chan­nels, ed­u­ca­tional, cul­tural and tourism co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries.

“So far, both the Chi­nese em­bassy and Cana­dian gov­ern­ment have es­tab­lished task forces to fo­cus on fully im­ple­ment­ing the out­comes and con­sen­sus of Prime Min­is­ter (Stephen) Harper’s visit to China,” said Luo.

Ac­cord­ing to the Chi­nese Min­istry of Com­merce, Canada bi­lat­eral trade in 2013 reached $54.4 bil­lion, to­tal two-way in­vest­ment was more than $51 bil­lion and Canada has be­come the sec­ond-largest in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion coun­try of China.

“How­ever, Canada has been lag­ging be­hind in de­vel­op­ing eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with China. China has now be­come Aus­tralia’s largest trad­ing part­ner, ex­port mar­ket and source of im­ports,’’ said Luo. “Last year, the trade vol­ume be­tween the two coun­tries reached $136 bil­lion, which is almost three times the trade vol­ume be­tween China and Canada.”

Dur­ing Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Harper’s third visit to China in Novem­ber, both coun­tries signed a re­cip­ro­cal cur­rency agree­ment and an­nounced a new Chi­nese cur­rency hub in Canada, mak­ing Canada the first coun­try in the Amer­i­cas to have a deal to trade in RMB, cut­ting out the mid­dle man — in most cases, the US dol­lar.

Un­der a pro­gram of­fered by the UK, any­one with the in­ten­tion and means to invest 2 mil­lion GBP in the coun­try will be granted a visa. The Sig­nif­i­cant In­vestor Visa of­fered by Aus­tralia grants res­i­dency visas to po­ten­tial in­vestors. It re­quires four years of in­vest­ment in Aus­tralia for peo­ple in­vest­ing at least 5 mil­lion Aus­tralian dol­lars.

In the United States, the EB-5 visa pro­gram is run by the US Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices (USCIS). With a min­i­mum of $1 mil­lion — or $500,000 in low em­ploy­ment or ru­ral ar­eas — an EB-5 in­vestor’s project must cre­ate or pre­serve at least 10 full-time jobs. In re­turn, the in­vestor is el­i­gi­ble for a green card for per­ma­nent US res­i­dency.

Nearly 11,000 in­vestors ap­plied to invest via the EB-5 pro­gram as of Sept 30, ac­cord­ing to the Wall Street Jour­nal. That’s up from 6,346 a year ear­lier and 486 in 2006, the news­pa­per re­ported, cit­ing USCIS fig­ures. Chi­nese na­tion­als are the big­gest source of EB-5 funds and make up about 85 per­cent of visas ap­proved in the 12 months ended in Septem­ber ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per.

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