Canada’s World-Class Financial Institutions Providing Benefits to Growing Chinese Middle Class

Minister Fast highlights the win-win benefits of increased trade and investment ties

(No. 290 - October 9, 2011 - 10:00 a.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today met with representatives from a number of Canadian financial institutions that are conducting business in China and serving that country’s ever-growing middle class. During his meetings, the Minister emphasized how important Canada’s sound banking system and strong financial institutions are to the global economy.

“Increased trade and investment benefits middle-class families in both countries,” said Minister Fast. “Canada’s world-class financial institutions—such as the Bank of Montreal, Manulife and Scotiabank—are delivering financial security and opportunity to a growing middle class in China, and their success abroad creates these same benefits for families and shareholders back in Canada.”

Scotiabank recently acquired a 20-percent stake in the Bank of Guangzhou, a transaction aided by the Canadian embassy in Beijing and the consulate general in Guangzhou. Canadian officials have also assisted the expansion efforts of Manulife and the Bank of Montreal, two Canadian companies with a long history of doing business in China. Manulife first established operations in Shanghai in 1897, a mere 10 years after the company’s founding, while the Bank of Montreal undertook its first foreign-exchange transaction in support of trade with China as early as 1818.

“Canada’s financial services sector is a key example of Canada’s world-class capabilities and expertise, and its success abroad demonstrates what Canada can offer its important trading partners, including China,” added Minister Fast.

Canadian finance and insurance companies have long accounted for the largest segment of Canadian direct investment abroad (CDIA) by value. The stock of Canadian financial and insurance services investments abroad amounted to more than $242 billion (39 percent of total world CDIA by this sector) in 2010.

In 2011, for the fourth straight year, the World Economic Forum rated Canada’s banking system the world’s soundest.

For more information on the Minister’s visit, please consult Trade Visit to China.

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-7332

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000
Follow us on Twitter: @Canada_Trade

Backgrounder - Canadian Financial Companies in China

BMO Financial Group (Bank of Montreal)

BMO Financial Group is the only Canadian bank with branches in all four cities of Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and was only the eighth foreign bank permitted to be headquartered in the capital. BMO also has a representative office in Taipei, Taiwan, and an investment banking representative office in Beijing.

In January, BMO Financial Group announced that it has obtained a licence that will allow its North American commercial clients the ability to make payments directly to Chinese companies in the Chinese yuan.

Scotiabank

Scotiabank has offices in Beijing and in Shanghai, which is the most rapidly growing market in China and home to many multinational corporations. It also has branches to the south, in Guangzhou, and in central China, in Chongqing. Scotiabank has the largest presence in mainland China among all Canadian banks.

Recently Scotiabank purchased a minority stake in the Bank of Xi’an, an investment initiative undertaken jointly with the International Finance Corporation. This is the first such initiative in China by a Canadian bank.

Manulife-Sinochem Life Insurance Company Limited

Manulife-Sinochem Life Insurance Co. Ltd., the first Chinese-foreign joint venture life insurance company established in China, began operations in Shanghai on November 26, 1996.

In November 2002, Manulife-Sinochem opened a branch office in Guangzhou following receipt of the first branch licence granted by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission to a foreign-invested joint venture life insurance company. To date, Manulife-Sinochem is in 48 cities, including Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai and Tianjin, as well as major cities in the provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Sichuan, Shandong, Fujian, Liaoning and Hubei.