En­trepreneurs seek fewer con­straints

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

The head of a group of China’s most pow­er­ful busi­ness lead­ers called on Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau to open Canada’s trade and in­vest­ment doors even wider.

Ma Weihua, the pres­i­dent of the CEC, told The Cana­dian Press that the en­trepreneurs had urged Trudeau to ease what they see as rigid rules that hold back Chi­nese in­vestors.

Mem­bers of the China En­tre­pre­neur Club (CEC) — often re­ferred to as the bil­lion­aires club — met with the prime min­is­ter on Tues­day for the sec­ond time in less than two months.

“Trudeau him­self ex­pressed very clearly to sup­port the busi­ness col­lab­o­ra­tions in the two coun­tries,” Ma said as club mem­bers at­tended a busi­ness lun­cheon hosted by In­vest Ot­tawa, the sec­ond day on the group’s eight-day Cana­dian tour cov­er­ing Mon­treal, Ot­tawa, Toronto and Van­cou­ver.

The group en­cour­aged Trudeau to cre­ate “more favourable con­di­tions” on govern­ment ap­proval pro­ce­dures and to open up more sec­tors to in­vest­ment by Chi­nese com­pa­nies.

“Our pri­mary pur­pose this time is to build the bridge, build those con­nec­tions with our coun­ter­parts here in Canada,” Ma said.

He said the group wants to cre­ate a “win-win sit­u­a­tion” for both coun­tries by help­ing com­bine China’s vast mar­ket and cap­i­tal with Canada’s wealth of hu­man tal­ent and cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies.

“China has a huge mar­ket with un­lim­ited po­ten­tial; Cana­dian busi­ness should seize the op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with China’s mar­ket,” said An­dre Des­marais, deputy chair­man, pres­i­dent and co-CEO of Power Corp in Mon­treal, who joined the meet­ing on Tues­day.

Club mem­ber Xu Jinghong, chair­man of Ts­inghua Hold­ings, said that his in­vest­ment firm sees great tech­no­log­i­cal op­por­tu­ni­ties in Canada, thanks in large part to the coun­try’s strong ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem.

He said his com­pany, which has part­nered with Si­mon Fraser Univer­sity on a clean-tech in­no­va­tion cen­tre, is pri­mar­ily in­ter­ested in sci­en­tific in­no­va­tion and re­search and de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing life sci­ences, en­vi­ron­men­tal and smart tech­nolo­gies.

The club also ex­pressed con­cern about Bri­tish Columbia’s new 15 per­cent real es­tate tax on for­eign in­vestors aimed at the siz­zling Van­cou­ver hous­ing mar­ket.

Our pri­mary pur­pose this time is to build the bridge, build those con­nec­tions with our coun­ter­parts here in Canada.”

“Al­though the 15 per­cent tax brings in­con­ve­nience to over­seas buy­ers, I plan to in­vest in Canada to build res­i­den­tial prop­erty in the next two to three years, es­pe­cially for the Chi­nese buy­ers,” Frank Wu, one of China’s top real es­tate moguls, said on Monday in Mon­treal.

The tour is tak­ing place only a few weeks after an ex­change of high-level of­fi­cial vis­its — Trudeau’s re­cent trip to China, fol­lowed by Chi­nese Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang’s visit to Canada.

The trav­el­ling mem­bers met with Trudeau north of Ot­tawa, near Que­bec’s Meech Lake on Tues­day.

Trudeau has shown more will­ing­ness to do busi­ness with the world’s sec­ond-big­gest econ­omy than the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment — he’s even com­mit­ted to launch­ing ex­ploratory free­trade talks.

With an ob­jec­tive of bol­ster­ing pub­lic diplo­macy for the Chi­nese pri­vate sec­tor, the club mem­bers, made up of 50 top Chi­nese firms with a com­bined an­nual gross in­come of $585 bil­lion, planned many high-level meet­ings with Canada’s busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal elite.

Canada is the ninth des­ti­na­tion coun­try for the club’s an­nual vis­its, fol­low­ing suc­cess­ful trips to the United States, UK, France, Bel­gium, Aus­tralia, Sin­ga­pore, Ger­many and Italy.

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