– – – New Partnerships Established in Business, Transportation, Education, Immigration, Research
Premier Greg Selinger and Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee today completed a 10-day trade mission to China and Hong Kong.
“Strengthening ties with our second-largest trading partner is good for Manitoba businesses and it’s critical to Manitoba’s economy as we move forward through these uncertain times,” said Selinger. “We’ve come a long way in the past decade to build our economic relationship with China, but the opportunities that remain ahead of us are nothing short of immense.”
The premier’s first stop in China was Tianjin where he participated in the World Economic Forum and toured Tianjin Polytechnique University with Sean McKay, of the Manitoba-based Composites Innovation Centre, to observe joint research into the use of natural fibres such as flax for industrial composite applications.
“Winnipeg is home to the largest concentration of composite manufacturers in Canada,” said Selinger. “By staying at the leading edge of composite research and innovation, I believe this partnership will serve many Manitoba businesses well going forward.”
The mission’s next stop was Beijing, where Selinger joined the premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Yukon to meet with senior Chinese political and business leaders. These included meetings with Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, who serves under Premier Wen Jiabao in the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, and Chen Deming, China’s minister of commerce. While in Beijing, Selinger also announced a new initiative to help Manitoba tourism operators better target and serve the growing number of Chinese visitors to the province.
The premiers next travelled to Shanghai where they met with Ai Baojun, Vice-Mayor of Shanghai to discuss expanding trade opportunities. With a population of 23 million, Shanghai and the surrounding Yangtze River Delta produce almost one-quarter of China’s gross domestic product and attract 53 per cent of all foreign direct investment in China.
In Shanghai the premier signed and witnessed a number of agreements including a renewal of a memorandum of understanding with Manitoba’s sister province Anhu and a new partnership between CentrePort Canada and the SinoTrans Eastern Company, the largest logistics and transportation company in China. CentrePort and SinoTrans will work together on developing new technologies, logistics and supply-chain systems to help Manitoba food producers and other businesses export high-quality products to growing consumer markets in China.
While in Shanghai, the premier announced new supports for Chinese immigrants before they arrive in Manitoba and witnessed an agreement between the River East Transcona School Division and Pixian School District of Chengdu to provide the Manitoba curriculum in China and expand student exchanges.
The lieutenant-governor witnessed the signing of agreements between Red River College and universities in Shanghai to facilitate collaboration on joint research projects and encourage student exchanges. While in China, Red River College president Stephanie Forsyth also signed a similar agreement with a university in Xi-an.
Selinger’s next stop was Nanjing for a tour of a brand new facility aimed at improving crop and food storage techniques in China, which opened earlier this month as part of a partnership between the Nanjing University of Finance and Economics and the University of Manitoba. The facility was announced during the premier’s last trade mission to China in 2010.
“China loses roughly the equivalent of all the grain crops Canada produces due to poor storage, substandard processing facilities and outdated technologies,” said the premier. “The Chinese government has allocated approximately $80 million to improve food storage in China, which presents an excellent opportunity for several Manitoba companies that are established world leaders in this field.”
The final leg of the mission was in Hong Kong, where Selinger met with John Tsang, the financial secretary of Hong Kong, and participated in alumni events for the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. Also in Hong Kong, the premier and lieutenant-governor took part in a ceremony at Sai Wan War Cemetary to honour Canadian soldiers who fought to defend Hong Kong during the Second World War. The premier also met with Hong Kong business titan Li Ka-shing, founder of Cheung Kong Holdings.