Trade Commissioner Service Helping Canada’s World-Class Financial Sector Flourish, Says Minister Fast

August 20, 2012 The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today praised the strength of Canada’s financial sector and the role Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) plays in helping it succeed.

“Canada’s financial sector contributes about $250 billion to Canada’s annual economic activity, creating high-value jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity,” said Minister Fast. “What few people realize is that our trade commissioners advise foreign banks looking to invest in Canada as well as Canadian financial institutions looking to expand abroad.”

Located in more than 150 cities worldwide and in regional offices across Canada, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service is Canada’s most extensive network of international business professionals. In the last year, the TCS engaged in nearly 450 interactions with Canadian and foreign financial institutions in support of their global market expansion efforts.

A recent example of Canadian investment abroad that was facilitated by the TCS is Manulife-Sinochem, a joint-venture company launched in China by Manulife (International) Limited and the China Foreign Economy and Trade Trust Company (a member of the Sinochem group). In March 2012, Manulife-Sinochem received approval to establish a branch office in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei. Manulife-Sinochem now has 50 city licences in China, giving it the widest geographic footprint of any foreign-invested joint-venture insurance company in that country.

“Our success in China is not only a reflection of our deep roots and strategic commitment to the region, but it is also a testament to the outstanding support we have received from the Chinese and Canadian governments,” said Donald A. Guloien, President and CEO, Manulife Financial.

Another example is Bank of Montreal (BMO), which expanded in the Middle East with the opening of an office in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) in May.

“BMO’s new regional headquarters in the U.A.E. provides relationship coverage for institutions in the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Middle East and North Africa, bringing us closer to the clients we have been serving in the area for decades,” said William Smith, head of the European and Middle East regions for BMO. “Our global asset management business is well positioned to continue expanding its institutional client base in the region. And of course we have long-standing industry relationships in North America. Our mergers and acquisitions group helps regional entities navigate emerging opportunities. The Trade Commissioner Service provided invaluable advice at the outset and throughout our expansion plan. The commissioners were proactive in putting us in touch with the contacts we needed to move forward.”

Trade commissioners in China played a key role in facilitating new foreign direct investment in Canada by the Bank of China.

The Canadian subsidiary of Bank of China opened its first branch in Canada in 1994 and now has nine branches in three cities: Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

“Canada’s financial sector continues to be very attractive for Bank of China,” said Wang Lijun, President and CEO of Bank of China (Canada). “We first established a presence in Canada in 1994 and recently expanded our presence to nine branches across the country. Our success continues to be based on our active commitment to Canadian communities, to contributing to bilateral economic and trade development between China and Canada, and to the tremendous support we have received from the financial supervising authorities and the Chinese and Canadian governments.”

For the past four years, the World Economic Forum has identified Canada as home to the soundest banking system in the world. Six of the world’s safest banks and four of North America’s 10 largest banks are Canadian. Three Canadian life and health insurers rank in the top 15 of the world's largest life and health insurance companies. Canadian insurers are active in over 20 countries around the world. The financial services sector, which includes banks, insurance companies and asset management firms, is the largest subsector of Canada’s services economy.

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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
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