Canada’s China trade needs boost, forum says
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.