China-Alberta trade talks in the works as Chinese ambassador visits the province


China-Alberta trade talks in the works as Chinese ambassador visits the province
  1. China-Alberta trade talks in the works as Chinese ambassador visits the province
    edmontonsun.com
    Alberta set a new record for monthly non-U.S. international exports in March, chalking up $422 million in trade to…
    Alberta

Alberta set a new record for monthly non-U.S. international exports in March, chalking up $422 million in trade to China.

Yet as the province works to forge more trade connections with the Asian nation, China's ambassador to Canada worries there is a deficit of understanding between the two countries.

Not the governments — provincially and federally, growing trade is seen as a positive step — but Lu Shaye thinks the people of both nations lack a comprehension of one another.

Lu's goal is to change all that.

The ambassador is new to his post, stepping into the role just two months ago.

Sitting down with the Sun Friday, midway through his first trip to Alberta, Lu didn't mince words when he talked about the challenges facing trade relationships.

Geographically, Canada is far removed from the economic hotbed that is China.

It's 8,500 kilometres to Beijing from Edmonton, and Alberta is incredibly dependent on trade with the United States.

But for Lu, it's the trade barriers that are really standing in the way.

"In this regard, I think signing a (free-trade agreement) is necessary, is very important for our two countries," he said.

The trade trend

Record-setting China-Alberta exports fit well with the current trade picture.

Over the first three months of 2017, Alberta's exports to China were valued at $1.1 billion, up 39 per cent compared to the same three months in 2016. The March figures alone marked a 48 per cent increase over the previous year.

Jurisdictions from all over the world are being drawn to China's booming economy like moths to a flame.

It was the destination for Premier Rachel Notley on her first trade mission outside North America, in which she signed two new agreements signalling Alberta and China’s intention to work closely together.

But while China considers Alberta a trading partner equal in importance to any other Canadian province, and Canada equal to any other country, there's nothing setting us apart from competing jurisdictions.

So to increase trade, which Lu said is "of course" possible, "we have to make more efforts ... to…

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