By Tom Peters

China’s Ambassador to Canada says there are many opportunities for Chinese companies to invest in Atlantic Canada. His Excellency Zhang Junsai pointed toward the $115 billion worth of projects now underway or planned for the Atlantic region and said to delegates attending Halifax Port Days, “If these are open to foreign investment, they are of interest to many Chinese companies.” The megaprojects have been identified by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.

Zhang said “China’s dream is to build a more prosperous nation,” and there are potential business opportunities in Atlantic Canada to help his country do that. Since 2008 China’s trade has increased 130 per cent with Atlantic Canada and stands at approximately $2 billion annually, Zhang said. He said China is interested increasing that trade and cited commodities such as potash, iron ore, zinc, nickel, forestry products and seafood as growth areas. He also noted China’s interest in the offshore oil and gas industry and power generation projects. He said imports of Atlantic Canada lobster, for example, have increased “120 times in the last five years.” He told delegates, “You have just exactly what we need.”

Zhang also pointed to high-tech trade such as within the aerospace industry, as another way to increase two-way trade and also encouraged more tourism between both countries. China is Canada’s second largest trading partner and has been the largest trading partner for Port of Halifax, said Zhang. Nearly half of the port’s containerized business comes from Southeast Asia and Zhang said that there is opportunity to increase business with his country. He suggested Atlantic Canada companies do more business with China “and do it as a team. Establish Team Atlantic Canada.” He said that pooling resources makes it “easier to get more attention from the Chinese. You will get better results as a team.”

The Ambassador said Port of Halifax is a vital gateway for China and “deepening co-operation with China has a growing role.”