Canada China Business Council Annual General Meeting
The Honourable Bardish Chagger, PC, MP
Minister of Small Business and Tourism
September 21, 2017
Check Against Delivery
Hello, it’s wonderful to be here tonight.
I hope everyone had a very productive day today. You had a very impressive lineup of speakers!
I want to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather this evening is the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and, most recently, the territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.
I would also just like to say that it is a pleasure to share the podium today with my friend and colleague the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade, and with Michael Evans, President of the Alibaba Group.
I have had the privilege of working closely with Minister Champagne to promote stronger trade and tourism ties with China, and I can say that he is a great ambassador for the benefits of increased trade—a rising tide raises all boats!
And thank you to Michael and Alibaba for being here. I have to say I’m very much looking forward to Monday for the big SME fair.
It was also an honour to join Jack Ma for the She-ERA conference in Hangzhou back in July. The conference focused on women empowerment—something near to my heart. And I want to commend Alibaba for your strong efforts to promote diversity within your company.
This past July, when I travelled to China with His Excellency David Johnston, we received a warm welcome everywhere we went—from Hangzhou to Chongqing and Guiyang to Beijing.
It is my pleasure to take this opportunity to repay that welcome and say to our Chinese visitors: Welcome! I hope you are able to find the time to take in this beautiful city.
While this is the first time in five years that this event is being held in Canada, the annual meeting of the Canada China Business Council has been the event for Canadian small businesses interested in opportunities in China and for Chinese firms looking to set up shop in Canada.
Your work to promote trade and investment between Canada and China is so valuable.
Though Canada and China are on opposite sides of the world’s largest ocean, the ties between our two countries are strong.
There are strong cultural ties. About 4.5 percent of Canada’s population has Chinese ancestry. That’s more than 1.5 million Canadians!
Mandarin and Cantonese are the third and fourth most spoken languages in homes across the country.
And as we look to 2018, the Canada-China Year of Tourism will allow us to build on those strong ties and take our relationship to new levels.
While I was in China with the Governor General, President Xi and Premier Li placed special emphasis on the opportunity tourism represents.
China is already a key market for Canada’s tourism sector. Last year, we welcomed more than 610,000 Chinese visitors.
And as part of Canada’s New Tourism Vision, our comprehensive plan to develop Canada’s tourism sector, we want to double the number of visitors from China by 2021.
Already in the first six months of this year, Chinese visits are up more than 14 percent over 2016! We are certainly well on our way.
While this commitment is clear, achieving it will depend on many different elements of the Tourism Vision.
Overall, our vision is based on three pillars: marketing, access and product.
On the marketing front, Destination Canada, Canada’s national tourism marketing agency, is working with Alibaba, in particular Fliggy, and other Chinese companies to market Canada in China.
With respect to coming to Canada—or access—we are working closely with the Chinese government to explore ways to get more flights to and from Canadian and Chinese airports. In February of this year, Air Canada launched daily non-stop flights between Montréal and Shanghai.
We hope to see more of this.
And when it comes to the product—or what people do when they are here—we are working closely with partners like the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and the Hotel Association of Canada, and of course the CCBC, to promote market readiness activities.
Minister Champagne and I have been meeting with these partners to raise awareness of the Canada-China Year of Tourism in 2018 and to encourage them to get excited for the opportunities that it represents.
We will officially kick off this momentous year in early 2018 and announce a full roster of events and activities, so stay tuned.
We are very much looking forward to next year, and I predict it will be a great one.
Increased tourism and stronger people-to-people ties are fantastic by themselves, but you may be asking why they’re important for our businesses?
The answer is simple: when our people have personal connections, this can lead to increased trade opportunities for our small businesses.
China is now behind only the United States as the nation with which Canada trades the most.
In fact, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and China totalled more than $85 billion in 2016.
And we fully expect trade between the two nations to continue on that trajectory.
Indeed, during his trip to China in 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined Premier Li in a commitment to double two-way trade by 2025.
Foreign direct investment between Canada and China is another success story. It increased nearly eightfold between 2005 and 2013. By the end of 2016, it was well over $34 billion.
But numbers don’t tell the whole story. There are some amazing examples of collaboration at the company level.
As you may have heard, the Government of Canada introduced the Innovation and Skills Plan.
Among other goals, this plan aims to create opportunities for a new generation of Canadian companies to develop into global brands.
Clean technology is a priority for both countries, and Novonix of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and Loop Energy of Burnaby, British Columbia, are two examples of Canadian firms making major inroads in the Chinese market.
Novonix makes innovative solutions for testing lithium-ion batteries often found in electric cars.
It works with a Chinese firm called Contemporary Amperex Technology, a leading manufacturer of these batteries, which in turn works with BMW, Hyundai and a whole host of other vehicle manufacturers.
Novonix is now part of a global supply chain.
Loop Energy, meanwhile, is in the fuel cell business. It has partnered with China National Heavy-Duty Truck Group Company to incorporate its zero-emission power systems into the Chinese firm’s terminal tractors and yard trucks.
These are just two examples of our strong ties—ties that are helping both of our economies while also helping in the fight against climate change.
These are the kinds of partnerships we need more of!
Ladies and gentlemen, our strong ties and deep relationship gets stronger as each year passes.
There is much to be excited about as we look to the future, especially the new opportunities that could result from our ongoing work with the Chinese government to promote freer trade.
When I think back to the amazing growth and dynamism I saw taking place while I was in China, I think of the opportunities for both of our countries—opportunities for increased trade, for more tourism and for even deeper people-to-people connections.
And I very much look forward to being part of this process with Minister Champagne, with Michael [Evans] and Alibaba, and with all of you in this room.
We have our work cut out for us, but the potential is tremendous. And our government is committed to success, both Canada’s and China’s.
I hope to see many of you next year. And I hope to be able to travel back to China again soon.
I wish you all the best in your efforts.
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