Christy Clark | BCBusiness
At a Canada-China business symposium, executives open up on the shortcomings of bilateral trade
“You are sitting in the most Asian city inside of North America,” said B.C. Premier Christy Clark to a delegation of executives from high-profile Chinese firms, both private and state-owned.
“Our goal is to establish Vancouver as an international finance centre for trading in the Chinese currency,” explained Clark, who was the last in a queue of provincial, federal and local politicians to speak at a networking event Monday hosted by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.
Clark touted China-Canada ties and Vancouver’s potential role as the North American gateway for Asian finance and investment. To that end, her office is lobbying the federal government, the Bank of China and the Chinese government for the permissions required to establish a trade settlement centre for the Chinese yuan (also known as the renminbi).
Further afield, Clark hopes to have five Asian companies headquartered in Vancouver by 2020.
Exports to Asia hit $14.7 billion in 2013, around half of those to China, driven overwhelmingly by natural resources. Coal exports alone almost doubled from 2012 to 2013, noted Clark.
Canada tends to export commodities, while importing low-cost, finished goods from China, said Shi Hao, the Agricultural Bank of China's chief representative for Canada. “It’s more of a single note relationship,” he explained in a panel.
That said, we shouldn't rule out opportunities for bilateral investment in clean technology and high-end Canadian agricultural products, Hao added—like wine, tourism and digital media services, all of which appeal to China’s growing consumer class.