>> by Daichi Ishikawa, Fred Ninh, Corinna Ha, and Nadeem Kilani
Junior Team Canada’s 2015 delegation attended a briefing by held by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade on Monday (August 3rd) to learn about the various opportunities and challenges for Canadian companies looking to invest in Chongqing and the broader South Western region.
History and Current Economic Position
The manufacturing and technology prowess of Chongqing is rooted in its wartime history. The city’s inland location is a strategic advantage, protected by the surrounding mountains and yet accessible from the coast by the river. This unique geographic inheritance lead to the city being designated as the Chinese wartime capital and center of all military command during the Second World War. Such was the importance of the city to the war effort, U.S. President Roosevelt would refer to it as “the morale fortress” of the allied forces.
Having continued the development of its heavy industries well beyond the armistice in 1940, Chongqing today has become an important economic center for emerging industries in the STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing) sectors. The persistent development of these sectors is further supported through a robust education infrastructure, with particular emphasis on institutions with strong technical training programs and focused industrial expertise.
In particular, there is a significant presence of emerging companies and industry clusters that are focusing on the design, development, and manufacturing of: computer monitors and screens; robotics; telecommunications; advanced materials; clean technology; and medical sciences and engineering.
Opportunities and Challenges
Canadian expertise in clean technologies and agricultural engineering, as well as our strengths in the chemical and advanced materials industries, stand to benefit from this rapid development. However, the market may be shifting even as Canadian companies and organizations actively pursue opportunities in this space.
Corinna Ha, a Junior Team Canada Ambassador representing Ontario and an incoming finance student at McGill University, found that a mismatch between the supply and demand of foreign direct investment sought by Canadian municipalities posed both fresh challenges and opportunities.
“My partner, the municipality of Chatham-Kent, is seeking Chinese auto parts manufacturers that supply the North American market to developing plants in their municipality. Unfortunately due to strong domestic demand in China and high production costs, auto parts suppliers apparently have no interest in entering our markets. They would rather expand to emerging markets in Africa for example, to pursue growing demand for automobiles in an environment with much lower production costs.”
Instead, Ha recommends Chatham-Kent and other municipalities to pursue broader opportunities that leverage Canada’s reputation for quality and reliability. “I think Chatham-Kent should not only focus on attracting capital investments from the automotive industry, but also look at high-tech companies based in China that wish to enter the North American market. The STEM industries in China, and Chongqing in particular, are rapidly developing sectors that will continue to see significant investments in the foreseeable future. Positioning ourselves to take advantage of this wave would be of great benefit to Canadian communities.”
About China Council for the Promotion of International Trade
Established in May 1952, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) comprises VIPS, enterprises and organizations representing the economic and trade sectors in China. It is the most important and the largest institution for the promotion of foreign trade in China.
The aims of the CCPIT are: to operate and promote foreign trade; to use foreign investment to introduce advanced foreign technologies; to conduct activities of Sino-foreign economic and technological cooperation in various forms; to promote the development of economic and trade relations between China and other countries and regions around the world; and to promote the mutual understanding and friendship between China and peoples and economic and trade circles of all nations around the world.
With the approval of the Chinese government, the CCPIT started to adopt a separate name – China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC)- in 1988, which is used simultaneously with the CCPIT. The CCPIT admits new members from among enterprises in all parts of China and promotes trade through its functions of information consultation, exhibition, and legal assistance.