Friday, July 29, 2016

Southern Alberta ready for increased Chinese investment

Regional Partnership matches investment opportunities, products and services with investors and buyers during October international trade delegation visit

SouthGrow Regional Initiative press release - A consortium of southern Alberta economic development organizations -- representing more than 40 municipalities and hundreds of businesses -- is inviting a group of Chinese business owners and investors to the region in the fall to develop trade relationships.

Canada is China’s second-largest trading partner, with nearly $80 billion in trade flowing back and forth between the two countries, and nearly $60 billion in investment to date. Canada is also among the top destinations for investors in a variety of business ventures that include agribusiness, tourism, transportation and technology.

Visits to the region have increased significantly over the past two years because Southern Alberta is home to a diverse range of businesses, industries and organizations that fit these categories and also exemplify unique and high-quality Canadian-made products or services of interest to investors and government delegations.

The four partner groups -- Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, Economic Development Lethbridge, Lethbridge County and SouthGrow Regional Initiative – are looking for local and regional partners to join them as they show and tell about the broad range of products and services that southern Alberta businesses and organizations have to offer.

“We are well positioned to attract new investment from China and grow our exports of goods and services to China,” said Pete Lovering, Executive Director of the SouthGrow Regional Initiative and one of the group’s spokespeople. “We also expect more interest in southern Alberta from China-based businesses thanks to a recently-announced direct flight from Beijing to Calgary on Hainan Air, so it is becoming very convenient for people to do business with us.”

Strategically selected and by invitation only, the Chinese investors and companies, primarily from the Anyang region in Henan province, will be from the sectors of agriculture, agri-food, renewable energy technologies, clean-technologies and tourism and chosen based on best-fit with the region’s strengths and opportunities. Their visit is scheduled for October, 2016.

Lovering said representatives from China and southern Alberta businesses, governments and educational institutions are already connected in many ways, and the business development process is another opportunity to build on already successful relationships. “This is an excellent opportunity to talk directly with buyers and suppliers who are looking to not only buy products, but to establish business investment relationships that are beneficial to both parties.”

A key element of this project is an Investment Guide package that will profile and promote the opportunities available in the Lethbridge region to visitors. The English and Chinese package, being produced by Economic Development Lethbridge (EDL) on behalf of the group, will be available online, in print and distributed to a number of international trade offices in Canada and China.

Interested participants have the opportunity to list their investment-ready project, opportunity, business, product or service in the material and also become part of the trade delegation meetings and site visits. Additional information is attached.

“These targeted efforts to match the interests of the delegation with those of local and regional businesses should create a value-added experience for all those involved,” said Heather McIntosh-Rivera, Economic Development Lethbridge Director of Business Development. “The China market is increasingly more open to all types of business interests, from modest to massive. The opportunity we are promoting this fall will better connect people so they can begin conversations about business development.”

She added that a number of businesses are currently, and successfully, exporting their products to market in China or conducting business there, ranging from beef and specialty foods to customized feed crops. “We’ve learned that it is more about building a foundational relationship than jumping right into an immediate deal. By joining our program, we believe we can help our local companies to start to build sincere relationships, and show our visitors that we are ready and willing to talk business in a meaningful way.”

The project will also include opportunities to seek investment into new tourism developments, such as specialty resorts and campgrounds. “Becoming more connected to the China market is of particular importance to our rural regions,” said Bev Thornton, Executive Director of Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance. “Our wide open spaces, breathtaking landscapes and authentic prairie and rocky mountain experiences offer the opportunity for people to connect with nature in a very personal way.”

The visitors are expected to be in southern Alberta for a week, and in addition to visiting business-focused sites will be able to experience the hospitality that has made the region famous world-wide.

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