The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today concluded a 10-day trade mission aimed at generating business for Canada in Japan, which is Asia’s biggest economy, and in China, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
“I was impressed by the aggressive search for new contracts and Asian partners by innovative Canadian companies,” said Minister Day. “I also had the privilege of seeing first-hand how Canadian companies already established in Japan and China are prospering and growing. These are huge consumer markets with enormous potential. China alone has 30 cities with more people than Canada’s biggest city of Toronto.”
While in Japan and China, the Minister assisted four separate Canadian trade delegations tracking down new opportunities: a group of transportation firms and organizations promoting the Asia-Pacific Gateway as a key corridor to North America, an information and communications technology delegation, a group of construction companies with expertise in energy-efficient products and building designs, and a medical devices group. More than 50 Canadian companies and organizations participated.
In Beijing, Minister Day was pleased to announce the signing of a new agreement on trade logistics to strengthen trade and transportation linkages. He also signed an action plan for collaboration in the transportation sector and an agreement on cooperation in civil aviation industries. In addition, the Minister marked the opening of two new trade offices in China—one in Chengdu and another in Shenzhen. Four more offices are planned for 2009.
Minister Day also used the visit to promote collaboration on science and technology. Six joint projects were announced, including one involving the testing of lead compounds for use as inhibitors of the HIV-1 virus.
“We are doing everything we can to help Canadian companies pursue opportunities in Asia and to encourage Japanese and Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in Canada,” said Minister Day. “By helping our businesses establish links abroad, more jobs will be created in Canada. That is our objective, and we made progress in reaching that goal during this visit.”
“Face-to-face networking is invaluable,” said Mike Jacobson, business development officer of Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia, of Williams Lake, B.C., one of the companies that took part in the delegation. “We were able to gather a lot of information in a short time, which we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own. The group from Ottawa did an awesome job.”
During ministerial meetings in China, Minister Day raised Canada’s human rights concerns. “We have a policy of constructive engagement and we discuss all issues of mutual interest,” said the Minister. He welcomed this week’s announcement by the Chinese government of its National Human Rights Action Plan.
While in southwest China, Minister Day visited the Sichuan epicentre of the devastating 2008 earthquake in which more than 70,000 people died. Canada is the second-largest foreign donor to the Sichuan earthquake response effort, contributing about $75 million for essential needs and reconstruction efforts.
In Hong Kong, Minister Day unveiled a plaque at St. Stephen’s College in memory of the sacrifices of Canadian and other Allied soldiers who defended Hong Kong in the Second World War.
The Minister also discussed the global credit crisis with Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau, and spoke to two of the Canadian trade delegations. In addition, he attended a signing ceremony for a strategic agreement between China Gas Holdings Ltd. and British Columbia’s IMW Industries Ltd. The agreement designates IMW as a preferred supplier for up to 120 natural gas fuelling stations for taxis and buses over three years.
More details about Minister Day’s trip to Japan and China can be found at International Trade: Minister Day visits Japan and China.
- 30 -
For further information, and high-resolution pictures of the visit, media representatives may contact:
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada