Entrepreneurs seek fewer constraints
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.