China mission will pay dividends for Island economy
More Prince Edward Island products will be traded with China, more Chinese students will learn at Island schools, and more Chinese visitors will come here as a result of a recent trade mission led by Premier Wade MacLauchlan.
The Island delegation to the March 22-31 China trade and investment mission included 21 businesses and education institutions, together with the Premier and Economic Development and Tourism Minister Heath MacDonald. Supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the mission focused on expanding markets in food, education, advanced manufacturing, and tourism.
The premier and minister met with the new Canadian ambassador to China, John MacCallum, and with key government, business and education leaders to promote collaboration and explore opportunities to enhance economic activity between Prince Edward Island and China. In Hainan Province, which has shared a sister-province relationship with Prince Edward Island since 2001, the premier signed a memorandum of understanding with Mr. Luo Boaming, secretary of the CPC Hainan Provincial Committee, agreeing to explore tangible projects to expand their partnership in education, early learning and tourism.
Key events for the delegation included meeting with Alibaba, the world's largest retail-commerce company with more than 440 million active buyers; and visiting the headquarters of JD.com, China’s leading e-commerce platform with more than 226 million active customers.
In the priority area of food, the mission focused on growing partnerships that will send more Island products to China.
“The opportunity to meet with online giants like JD.com is really appreciated and something that not many companies get to experience,” said Ryan Tremere of By the Water Lobster. “We are confident that we will realize sales from this trade mission.”
"Visiting Alibaba opened our eyes to the complex workings of the organization, and the potential it holds for bridging our company with the global marketplace," said Jackson Platts, PEI Juiceworks.
Russ Mallard, president of Atlantic Beef Products, said, “I believe the Island’s beef industry is well positioned for an exciting future in China and we had the opportunity to meet with many potential customers.”
The delegation wrapped up the mission with a visit to a Cows store in Beijing. Since 2014, Cows has been serving premium quality ice cream imported to China from Prince Edward Island.
The University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College signed agreements to develop joint ventures and programs and to exchange research, faculty, and students with their fellow Chinese colleges and universities.
“For over 17 years, Holland College has worked with partner colleges in China to jointly deliver programs and projects; we presently have nine partner schools with over 1,500 students in China,” said Dr. Sandy MacDonald, Holland College vice president of Academic and Applied Research. "This PEI-China trade mission helped us deepen and enhance our existing partnership programs as well as network and begin discussions with new potential partners."
The premier also attended the launch of the Hangzhou Sunrise Little Citizen Kindergarten, part of ongoing efforts to expand early learning partnerships with China.
The premier was an invited speaker at the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Island Economic Cooperation Forum – part of the renowned Boao Forum for Asia – to promote Prince Edward Island’s marine technology industry and seafood products.
Aspin Kemp and Associates and COSCO Shipping Corporation, agreeing to jointly pursue the development of advanced power and propulsion technologies in the marine and oil and gas sectors.
“We created many business deals as well as connected with many Chinese companies interested in our product,” said Lennie MacAusland of A1 Filters, “and will be starting to export our products to China very soon.”
"As a result of the meeting that we had, we will have our travel package online next month in Alitrip, Alibaba's travel platform,” said Frank Chen of Atlantic Wild Travel. “This is a great opportunity for our company to promote outdoor adventure on Prince Edward Island to the Chinese market."
In both Shanghai and Beijing, the premier and minister met with travel tour operators and media outlets to promote Prince Edward Island as a tourism destination for the growing Chinese market. They highlighted the province’s high-quality food, unique culture, beautiful landscapes, and improved air access between China and Canada. National Geographic Traveler, Lonely Planet and Conde Nast Traveler were some of the travel media participating in these events. China is the fastest growing international tourism market, with a growing demand for experiential travel.
The premier spoke at the China-ASEAN Governors and Mayors Dialogue in Hainan Province, discussing collaborative approaches to education and tourism.
Overall, the mission contributed significantly towards province’s goal of quadrupling trade with China by 2025. China is already Prince Edward Island’s second-largest trading partner, accounting for more than $50 million in direct commerce last year.
“This mission has better positioned Prince Edward Island to be part of the growing demand in China for quality food, travel experiences, and educational programs,” Premier MacLauchlan said. “The new business we confirmed and opportunities we positioned in China will directly benefit Islanders by expanding markets for Island products and helping make us more prosperous, showing that we are a mighty Island that competes on the world stage.”
Memoranda of understanding signed and agreements reached during the March 22-31 China mission included:
• Prince Edward Island and Hainan Province signed a MOU on deepening people-to-people exchange and cooperation;
• University of Prince Edward Island and Hainan University’s Centre of Island Studies of the State Oceanic Administration agreed to establish a research network on island economies;
• The University of Prince Edward Island renewed their agreement with Hainan University to facilitate faculty and student exchange opportunities;
• Sunrise Group and Sichuan Honyee Group signed an agreement which will bring Cows stores to key tourism locations across western China;
• Holland College and Hainan College of Vocation and Technique renewed their joint venture agreement to add the golf club management program, business administration and marketing, and advertising management;
• Holland College and Hainan Technician College agreed to foster cooperation in education, research, and cultural exchange to develop mutually beneficial programs for their students, faculty, departments, and research institutes;
• The premier signed an agreement with Chengdu Yulin High School to create Prince Edward Island’s fifth overseas affiliated school;
• Holland College and the Zhengzhou Vocational College of Information Technology agreed to explore establishing an educational joint partnership in offering four at the institution and Tianjin City Vocational College;
• Aspin Kemp and Associates and COSCO Shipping Corporation, agreeing to jointly pursue the development of advanced power and propulsion technologies in the marine and oil and gas sectors; and
• Appin Cross Fine Foods reached agreements with two major food distributors, positioning them to distribute their beef products through new channels.