Virtually all energy and fertilizer exports go to the U.S. Not so for other categories: Most agri-foods and almost half of advanced tech exports, for instance, go elsewhere. If Alberta wants to diversify its economy, these sectors might be the ticket.
economic growth and move up the technological curve. “If you want to make cheap toys in China now, they don’t want you,” Kutulakos says. “They’ll send you to Bangladesh or somewhere else.” If, on the other hand, you’re making high-tech equipment that China needs or you can help China’s native companies do that, then you’re much more welcome. This would apply to things like environmental technologies and automation.
In addition to a growing domestic market, China – and Chinese businesses – are sitting on wads of cash. They’re buying foreign companies, snapping up technology, patents and expertise. Alberta has seen by far the most Chinese investment of any province, with 108 deals and $60 billion in investment since 2004. B.C. comes second, with $14.5 billion. Most of the investment in Alberta ($58.5 billion) has been in the energy sector, led by CNOOC’s acquisition of Nexen in 2013 for $15.1 billion. But other sectors have received money, including the agriculture and food sector which, including the Siwin deal, has seen $79 million invested. It’s worth noting that while 90 per cent of the investments in energy have been from Chinese state-owned entities, all the investment in agriculture and food has been private. “I always say, instead of buying that third house in Richmond, that $2 million can go a long way for a smallish Canadian business,” Kutulakos says. “It creates a circle of facilitating Canadian exports via inbound Chinese investment.”
Which brings us back to Siwin Foods, a company that has seen the investment but is waiting to tap the Chinese market. The company is working with Agriculture and Agri- Food Canada’s Market Access Secretariat, which works to help Canadian exporters reach international markets. “They need to get the meat regulatory bodies in China together and create some agreements,” DeJong says, but he knows it will be slow going. “The way the Market Access Secretariat operates is they work on wherever they get the most inquiries for market access,” he says. “With what Justin Trudeau has been doing over the last couple of months I would think China would become more important, but I’m just not sure how they prioritize their workload.”
“Alberta has sen by far the most Chinese investment of any
province, with 108 deals and $60 bilion in investment since 2004. B.C. comes second, with $14.5 bilion.”
The province exported $62.5 billion worth of oil and natural gas in 2015, representing two-thirds of all exports.