Ontario officials seek business in China

Updated: 2014-10-29 06:40

By Li Na in Toronto(China Daily USA)

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Ontario is attending to some business in China.

"Trade missions are an integral part of our plan to make Ontario more competitive globally," said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who along with other province officials and business representatives embarked on a weeklong trip to China on Oct 25. "We are committed to helping Ontario businesses open doors and build connections in this key market," she said.

Wynne's fellow travelers include Brad Duguid, minister of economic development, employment and infrastructure, and Michael Chan, minister of citizenship, immigration and international trade, and representatives of about 60 businesses and organizations.

The business groups will showcase their expertise in a range of industries, including clean tech, science and technology. The clean-tech companies will aim to increase their presence in the Chinese market. The science and technology delegation comprises companies, universities, research institutions and research hospitals.

"Welcome the premier and her delegation's visit to China; this is her first overseas trip as a premier and also her first trip to China," said Fang Li, Chinese consul general in Toronto. "It is of great significance. Ontario is the most important for China among the provinces of Canada. I believe this visit will deepen and expand the friendly cooperation of mutual benefit."

Fang also indicated that the Ring of Fire, a large chromite deposit in the north of Thunder Bay, can be a point of cooperation between the two countries. "The demand for the minerals is high in China; we can work together if the necessary infrastructure such as a rail line can be built in this area," Fang said.

Ontario exported goods worth $2.2 billion to China in 2013, an increase of almost 10 percent from 2012. According to the Conference Board of Canada, every $100 million increase in exports creates approximately 1,000 new jobs.

China is Ontario's second-largest trading partner but accounts for only 1.4 percent of the province's exports, compared with 80 percent to the United States. "The province needs to diversify its trade relationships to avoid [the decline due to rely on a single resource that] Ontario's manufacturing sector has suffered," said Duguid. "I hope the premier's visit can open more doors in China and ensure Ontario businesses access."

The 2014 China mission is part of Ontario's Going Global Trade Strategy to increase the province's international profile in support of the government's economic plan. The province is home to the largest Chinese community in Canada, with more than 710,000 Ontarians of Chinese origin. That creates a natural connection that fosters closer trade ties and makes Ontario an attractive destination for Chinese investment. Canadian firms need to break out of their comfort zones and pull off an economic shift to a new Asian market, Wynne said.

The mission began in Nanjing, the capital of Ontario's sister province, Jiangsu. The delegation was also scheduled to travel to Shanghai and then Beijing, where the premier will join the premiers of Prince Edward Island and Quebec for the Council of the Federation mission, which concludes Nov 1.

Two Chinese companies in Nanjing this week announced significant investments in Ontario that will translate into as many as 230 jobs.

"The strength of our longstanding friendship with China has allowed us to showcase the skills of our people and our ‘Made in Ontario' innovations," said Chan. "The key now is for government and industry to work together to follow up and turn the goodwill between our economies into good jobs for Ontarians."