Chinese Visit An Important Step For Canadian Business

By Gerry Weiner | September 26, 2016

Hon. Gerry Weiner – Pace Law Firm: I was very pleased to attend the Business Forum of the Canada China Business Council last week in Montreal. In attendance were Prime Minister Trudeau, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and other high ranking political and business people from both countries.

Tickets to the event were as scarce as Saturday night Canadiens tickets, which was apropos, seeing as Trudeau and Li took to the ice with the Montreal Canadiens and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre on Friday morning for a photo session.

Visit An Important Step For Canada

A Chinese delegation of hundreds of businesspeople and government officials led by Premier Li coming 3 weeks after Trudeau’s visit to China is a very important signal. It clearly states the desire of both leaders to ramp up a positive relationship between our two countries.

Of particular interest to me was the announcement a possible Canada-China Free Trade agreement. Very significant. China only has free trade with about 7 other countries. While it would take months if not years to conduct a feasibility study into such a trade agreement, I think this shows that Canadian and Chinese business relations are headed in the right direction.

Business Leaders Optimistic

Both Trudeau and Li were accompanied by numerous ministers, all of whom apparently had bilateral meetings during the visit. In their talking points, both leaders were very upbeat in their desire to dramatically increase business between our two countries. Indeed, they seemed to be taking advantage of the negative comments about the North American free trade agreement from south of the border to cast a better light on East/West relations.

Mark Machin, the President and CEO of the CPP Investment Board indicated that they will be moving some investments from the American market (about 40% of their portfolio) to the Chinese market. Brian Tobin, the Vice Chair of BMO Capital Markets was also very upbeat on the opportunities apparent in broadening this relationship.

The Liberals are obviously interested in boosting Canadian and Far East business initiatives in a big way. The Trudeau government, with strong advice from their friends in the Power Corporation and other business leaders are really excited with the opportunities now before them. We should look forward to the future.