China: Marching forward with trade

| September 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
Trade between Canada and China dates back to the 18th Century when the two countries traded lumber and fur. Today, China is Canada's second-largest trading partner. (Photo: © Ffang | Dreamstime )

Trade between Canada and China dates back to the 18th Century when the two countries traded lumber and fur. Today, China is Canada’s second-largest trading partner. (Photo: © Ffang | Dreamstime )

Just three months ago, on July 16, when then-Gov. Gen. David Johnston visited JD.com, one of China’s largest online retailers, in Beijing, 140,000 Canadian lobsters were sold online in one day, which broke the record of 97,000 by Alibaba. Now Canada has launched a second Canada pavilion on the JD.com online shopping site to help brand Canadian products and services, which connect with millions of Chinese consumers. The 300 kinds of seafood, including Arctic shrimp, as well as beef steaks, ice wine and blueberries in the JD Canada pavilion are attractive to Chinese consumers. This shows what benefit both countries witness by expanding mutual business.

The relationship between China and Canada started with business. It can be traced back to the 18th Century when the two countries had their first direct contact with lumber and fur trade. Today, China is Canada’s second-largest trading partner with $64.4 billion US last year compared to $156 million US in 1970 when China and Canada established diplomatic relations. Meanwhile, China’s $60 billion worth of investment into Canada has provided more than 10,000 direct jobs for Canadians.
Last year, the exchange of visits by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was fruitful. Both sides announced the goal of doubling bilateral trade and doubling the number of people-to-people exchanges made in 2015 by 2025. Both sides announced that 2018 would be the Year of China-Canada Tourism. Both sides agreed to launch exploratory discussions on a Canada-China free-trade agreement. The Canadian government is asking the public and interested Canadian stakeholders to help define Canada’s interests in a possible agreement with China, and to identify ways of maximizing the economic and social benefits of such an agreement
The economies of the two countries are highly complementary. With a population of 1.4 billion, of which 100 million are middle-class consumers, China is an open market full of potential for all kinds of high-quality goods and services. Last year, more than 600,000 Chinese tourists visited Canada, representing a 24-per-cent increase over the previous year. There are 180,000 Chinese students studying in Canada. How wonderful that when you are wandering on the campuses of the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and the University of Ottawa, you can hear students speaking to each other in English, French, Mandarin and Cantonese.
In nearly 40 years of “the great campaign in reform and opening-up from 1978,” China has been on a fast track to economic growth, and swift and tremendous changes are happening in everyday life and in every field. As the second-largest in the world, China’s economy represented 30 per cent of the world economy last year, according to the World Bank. In the next five years, China is aiming at a target of 6.5 per cent annual GDP growth, which will still be among the highest in the world. The Chinese economy will continue to act as a robust engine for the world economy. China will also import $8 trillion US and invest $750 billion US into foreign markets. At the same time, Chinese personal income and expenditure will rise at a solid pace. The Chinese government is endeavouring to eradicate domestic poverty by 2020.
China is now undergoing a great economic restructuring and the government is dedicated to transforming itself into an innovative, clean and service-oriented organization through institutional reforms such as streamlining functions and administration and delegating powers while improving regulations. Entrepreneurship and innovation will be dominant themes of the Chinese economy in decades to come.
In Ottawa, our embassy has a separate office responsible for economic and commercial affairs, which serves as a bridge between our two governments and business communities. Since China and Canada share common ground and a spirit of globalization, multilateralism and free trade, I’m quite convinced the bilateral economic and trade co-operation between our two countries will be bright and prosperous.

Xia Xiang is minister-counsellor at the Chinese embassy’s economic and commercial office. Reach him by email at ca@mofcom.gov.cn or by phone at (613) 786-2476.

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Xia Xiang is minister-counsellor at the Chinese embassy's economic and commercial office. Reach him by email at ca@mofcom.gov.cn or by phone at (613) 786-2476.

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