World / US and Canada

Forum calls for strengthening Canada-China trade

By Li Na in Toronto (China Daily USA) Updated: 2014-12-18 17:55

The fast-growing Sino-Canadian 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.

"This deal will bring great business opportunities for Chinese and Canadian communities in terms of the trade investment, and facilitate trade benefits for both countries,"said Wesley Mark, partner-deal leader of the China business network at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"The offshore RMB center will save Canadian companies billions of dollars in transaction costs, as well as offering transparency and confidence for firms that want to do business in China. Definitely, it will increase the trade involvement between the two countries,"said Zhu Mingxuan, president and CEO of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Canada).

Among the biggest agreements signed during Harper's trip to China was a deal for Bombardier to sell more than $1 billion in aircraft to China Express Airlines.

Pierre Se?n Pyun, vice-president of government affairs at Bombardier, said that China is expected to become the third-largest market for business jets and the second-largest market for commercial aircraft by 2032.

"We are expecting to further expand the collaboration with China and build technology partnership with China,"Pyun said.

During the forum, Chinese and Canadian business executives also shared their experiences on strengthening economic and trade cooperation through collaboration.

"There are still lots of challenges that exist in the business community,"said Yu Benlin, minister counselor for economic and commercial affairs at the Chinese Embassy. "Both countries should understand more about each other. Canada is a great country for business and investment. China is a potential market of 1.3 billion people for Canada. We should build channels to easily visit each other.”

"We hope Canada can build long term economic and trade collaboration with China, not only from the federal government, but also from the local government level,"said Pyun.

"It's very important for us to take the opportunity to work with the huge market in China, especially for the small- and medium-sized Canadian company. Also, we should build the education connection with China too, the young generation will be a good start,"said Greg Tereposky, a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

The forum was jointly hosted by Canada China Chamber of Commerce (CCCC), Consider Canada City Alliance, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC).

In addition to Ambassador Luo, Vice-Chairman of CCPIT Yu Ping, Ontario Senator Victor Oh, and Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade Michael Chan, also attended the forum.


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