Brandon Hastings - Mall Culture

To me at least, there's something really different about sitting in a restaurant in a mall. Not a strip mall. A mall-mall.

I don't mean sitting at a food court table in a mall, having just purchased your food from a nearby vendor. I mean actually sitting in a restaurant, in a mall. It feels a bit like being inside one of smaller boxes they put in the larger boxes when they package those jumbo Toblerones for Christmas.

Back home, there's the occasional White Spot (that's a British Columbia burger chain), Earls, or some such eatery, usually with glass windows and visible to outside passers-by, but this scattering of mall-based diners doesn't hold a candle to the plethora of full scale, sit down gastronomic experiences available at the Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Maybe it's just that Vancouver isn't really large enough to support these sorts of consumerism-bourne-grotesqueries (maybe you can see the west-coaster in me coming out in that statement), but I have actually never been confronted with such a strong mall culture as I have been in South East Asia. This 420,000 square metre, 6 story mall is not atypical of what one would find in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, or Mainland China.

Sat with my teammates in an Indian restaurant in the Mid Valley Megamall, I pushed away my 33 RM tandoori chicken half, 9 RM white basmati rice, and 4 RM bottle of water. I was full(ish), but oddly dissatisfied; there was no sauce, no spiced yoghurt, nothing. This meal had cost, in total, 46 Malaysian Ringets, or approximately CAD $14.50, and the major component was plain white rice which I had to order separately. We had selected this restaurant instead of the Japanese restaurant to the right, the Thai restaurant on the other side of the linoleum walkway, or a third, the type of which escapes my memory. My meal tasted like authentic Indian food, but it wasn't really "good.

I reflected upon my last Indian meal 3 days ago in Singapore near Little India MRT. We walked up a craggy sidewalk, sat in plastic chairs at wobbly tables, were confronted with an eclectic mix of pseudo-religious, religious, and just straight-up confusing artwork on the walls, ate from metal dishes, and drank from metal cups. The staff was jovial, the service left something to be desired, the restaurant opened onto the street, and (if you cared to look) the curries were stored in metal bins behind panes of glass. It was delicious, relaxed, and fun. In the Mid Valley Mall, the staff was attentive, all donned the same uniforms, and prepared the dishes with precision. I can't say that my experience at the mall was bad - it was just a bit... clinical by comparison. Sort of like my white rice - the experience was lacking a bit of flavour, spirit, and, well.... sauce.

In Singapore, you'd be hard-pressed to find a place to eat such as this. Most of the food in Singapore, even in the most opulent districts, is served in food courts. I ate in the basement of Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road after a meeting once last week, and was gratified to see I wasn't the only person wearing a suit. A meal like this in Singapore would most likely run you no more that $5 CAD, and it would be dripping in sauce, the water would be free (and come from a tap; tap water is potable in Singapore), and would include rice at no charge.To be fair to Kuala Lumpur, I'm sure that it has it's fair share of side of the road, authentic, greasy spoon Indian joints, as I'm sure Singapore has it's share of pretentious, overpriced, and artificially lit concessions.

As I wandered back into the fluorescent light of the 6th floor of the Mid Valley Megamall I was struck by how nice it was to be located conveniently only a few air conditioned steps from the entrance to my hotel. Despite this, however, I couldn't help but reflect how little "authentic" Malay cuisine I had seen that day as I ran all around Kuala Lumpur on our trade mission's cultural tour component. Maybe it's because I'm from Vancouver and the west coast hegemony has biased me towards vegan-hippy-surfer-hipster-organic-foodie culture, but if you ask me for my opinion on food: Singapore wins this round. I miss the sauce on my rice; or maybe I'm just biased by an intense dislike of megamalls.

by Brandon Hastings, BBA, JD, Junior Team Canada Ambassador

http://www.bhastings.com

Thoughts on My Development on the Global Vision Mission

One of the JTC grads from my school that went on mission to Panama and Columbia last year told me something before I went on mission.

"Be yourself, and don't hold anything back."

Simple words...I know, but she is exactly right! When you are put in a position where you are unsure or not confident, you have to represent yourself in the best way possible, even if you are uncomfortable about what is going on in that moment. It's about setting a personal image for yourself so that you will be remembered in a positive way that will make you proud of what you have accomplished.

Coming right from grade twelve I have a lot to learn, and I have a huge amount of potential to grow into a different person. Thus far I have to learnt how to network, and that is essential to selling yourself and the company that you represent. They are relying on you, and you have gained their trust, because they believe in your ability to sell them,and yourself.

I have learned to see things in a different perspective. You have to look beyond what it something may appear to be. The places I have seen in these past two weeks have developed immensely in the past 10 years, and that doesn't happen overnight. For example, Singapore is by far the cleanest place that I have had the chance to see. The people of Singapore want to showcase the simplicity and beauty of the city, because they have worked hard to make Singapore what it is today.

Most importantly I learned how to believe in myself, and not try to worry about what other people think. Sweaty palms and shaking hands used to be normal when I got the chance to public speak. Now I am able to push through, and think positively so that I can put out the image that I would want to see in other people. Even though all of those points are proof of what I did accomplish, I still have plenty of room to keep improving in order to be the next that I can be.

Now six months ago when I attended the Western Global Leadership Conference in Winnipeg, I would have never expected that I would be in Singapore writing a blog post as a Junior Team Canada Ambassador, but here I am! At seventeen years old I am representing businesses and companies back in Saskatchewan on the global stage, and that would not have been possible if I never pushed myself. I went from being a shy, quiet teenage girl, to a young professional, and that is something I will take with me for the rest of my life.

Laura Weinbender, Junior Team Canada Ambassador

Reflections on China and Hong Kong; looking forward to KL, SG, and asean.

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The bus lurches and I jerk awake. The clock reads 09:37, and I congratulate myself for sleeping away the past hour and a half. About two hours earlier, the delegation departed from Guangzhou (pronounced guang-jo in Mandarin, and guang-zhow in Cantonese) headed for Hong Kong's international airport. This bus ride, and the flight it is carrying us to, ends the China leg of the trade mission. I have met way more people in Hong Kong from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University here than I ever dreamed. Since I'm from Vancouver, where these two Universities are based, this bodes well for a future move to the booming Chinese economy. It is truly incredible how well connected Canada is with Hong Kong; many of my new connections were born in China, grew up in Vancouver, and returned to Hong Kong to start their careers and their families.

In terms of lifestyle, Hong Kong itself is an amazing metropolitan city. I love that you can do anything at any time of day. It's amazing the sheer number of people that have packed themselves into such a small geographic area, and because of that, there's always something going on. I've never been to New York, but I imagine there is a strong parallel between Honk Kong and North America's most densely populated city. There's even a pretty decent salsa dancing scene in Hong Kong about three nights a week... these are the sorts of things a young Vancouverite concerns himself with when considering moving to China's business hub.

The next leg of our journey will take us to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Singapore is a major player in asean (Association of SouthEast Asian Nations). Collectively, asean (pronouned ah-see-an, not 'asian') represent a $2 trillion USD emerging market, with the combined economic power of Malaysia, Thailand, Phillines, Myanmar, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, and Thailand. This is nowhere near as large as the $7 trillion USD Chinese market, which surpasses the other three BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, and India combined, but $2 trillion is still very substantial. And it's growing.

Hong Kong is positioned as the entry point to Asia. It will be interesting to see how Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, the next two cities we visit, have positioned themselves in the international business community. Although Hong Kong and China may be the world's largest emerging markets by far, with extreme investments in infrastructure still going on to date, the air quality leaves something to be desired. I'm realizing that being from Vancouver, I'm more than a little spoiled, and I wonder which of these international cities will hold a better nexus between opportunity and lifestyle for a young professional such as myself.

by Brandon Hastings, BBA, JD, Junior Team Canada Ambassador

http://www.bhastings.com

Legit Singapore

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As I sat in the food court of my old neighbourhood, the glass sliding doors of the ExtraFoods to my left, the 5 minute walk to my old apartment to my right, surrounded by my trade mission colleagues and new friends, I felt at home. I was honoured that these people, most of whom I had known for less than 2 weeks, trusted me enough to follow me 25 minutes from our hotel, into a foreign city, and out into a suburb, all based on my solemn assurance that this was the best authentic Singaporean food I had found during my four months in Singapore as an exchange student.

On the way to the restaurant, I had purchased us all cards for Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT): a system which rivals that of Hong Kong. A 10 minute walk into the Little India MRT station (closest to where we were staying), and a 15 minute train ride, and we had arrived.

Assembled on the table in front of us were my favourite foods, and I have yet to find their equals in taste, and certainly in price, in my hometown of Vancouver. We had (5 bowls of) Laksa: this might be my favourite thing in the known universe; it's a spicy seafood soup with coconut milk as the base. Fried Kway Teow, Goreng Mee, Carrot Cake (does not contain carrots), and a Korean claypot rice dish with chicken cubes and chilis. Later, we went for Durian McFlurries at a nearby McDonalds. Each of these dishes cost no more than $7 SGD, which is the equivalent of about $5.75 CAD. It's not uncommon to have a moderately lavish meal in Singapore for under $10 CAD. I used to regularly buy bowls of Laksa for $3, which was enough of a meal to sustain my 6'3'' frame. I can't think of a country I have visited with a stronger food culture. The only complaint I have is that it is remarkably difficult to find a good salad, and when I lived here I had to resort to making my own. Making your own food is a terribly un-Singaporean thing to do.

It used to be that all the food we enjoyed that evening would have been sold from stalls on the side of the street, called “hawker” stalls. Since Singapore has been industrialized, these stands have been moved indoors into “Hawker Centers,” which are most easily described in North American terms as foodcourts. Peculiar to this particular area is a a shopping mall which neighbors our food court. It contains another grocery store (the same brand), and a second food court.

The neighborhood in which we ate, called Hougang, is very similar to many other communities in Singapore. We sat surrounded by rings of government constructed and owned subsidized condominiums. Within this neighbourhood are several shopping centres, community centres, grocery stores, and bus stops. At it's centre is the Hougang MRT station, as well as the Hougang bus terminal.

Both the planned nature of the Singaporean neighbourhoods, and the way their hawker culture has been brought indoors, provide elucidating examples of how Singapore has fuelled its massive growth. Singapore is technically a democrary, true, but it's middle class is small which means that the average Singaporean is not very involved in the country's politics. Lee Kuan Yew has been left as a de facto dictator for most of the country's history, and by most accounts has done an excellent job. Despite having a population which might not be ready to be thrust into the world-wide capitalist system, Singapore is of growing importance on the world stage, and is rapidly creating the infrastructure necessary to fuel that growth. The message to its citizens appears to be "ready or not, here we come."

by Brandon Hastings, BBA, JD, Junior Team Canada Ambassador

http://www.bhastings.com

Meeting with Aaron Chu, Director United Strangers

Our final day in Guangzhou was full of excitement as we raced from one end of the city to another. Cathy, Andrew and I had just come from Sun Yat-sen University, named after the Republic of China’s first president. It was a beautiful day as we set off for our meeting with Aaron Chu, Director of United Strangers in an industrial area of the city. We had met Aaron the day before at the Consulate office in Guangzhou; he told us what it is like being a successful Canadian entrepreneur in southern China.

The United Strangers office and showroom was located in an extremely compelling part of the industrial area in Guangzhou. The surrounding area had been revitalized from an old can factory to an urban, scenic shopping location. Aaron’s shop displayed variety of products that they ship to clients all around the world. He also explained to us how many of his products come from recycled materials such as the decks out of old fishing boats. These boat parts would be used to create tables, chairs, shelves and other household items. His shop contained a variety of other products ranging from knapsacks to lamps and painted art.

At this meeting Aaron was able to put me in contact with a clothing manufacturer as part of my mandate from Saint Mary’s University Students Association. I have been in contact with the manufacturer and we will be set to do business in the coming months. I was extremely pleased to have made a solid connection with a Chinese company. However, my biggest takeaway from this day goes far beyond the connection that was made.

This meeting with Aaron inspired me as a young Canadian. It was amazing to see this wonderful niche market that Aaron, someone who was living a similar life to me about a decade ago, was able to tap into. Hearing his presentation was good, seeing the small, growing empire he created brought an entirely new perspective to the way I now perceive entrepreneurship in China.

Thoughts on Asia 2013

During the past twelve days here in Asia, I have experienced and absorbed significant and meaningful experiences. Learning about the gateway to Asia for businesses and companies (Hong Kong), economic and business growth in China, and the diversity of the population in Singapore gave me a genuine understanding of the relationships between these three cities and Canada. Even though Asia is 6,500 miles away from Canada, Canada and Asia have a very strong relationship.

Hong Kong is also known as "the gateway to mainland China." As an international business hub with a rapidly growing economy, it is easy to see why Hong Kong has an unemployment rate of only 3.7%. For businesses seeking to expand their market into mainland China, Hong Kong is a land of opportunity. The unique government structure of Hong Kong affords many privileges for those doing business within it. The low taxation rates for imports and exports, compared to mainland China, foster the interest of foreign businesses. This is one of the many reasons why Hong Kong is a prominent place for a company.

In just twenty years, Guangzhou has grown faster than many other cities in China. This highlights how important this city is becoming, both for business and economic development alike.

Singapore is definitely a fascinating country, with the country's population made up of Chinese, Indian and Bangladeshi people. Singapore offers a diverse and multicultural environment to the businesses coming to the country, which reminds me of Vancouver.

The cities visited on this international trade mission have varied significantly, from culture to language to business relationships. However, these cities are united by the fact that they are strongly connected to Canada via groups such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, university alumni, Invest HK, Canadian Trade Commissioners, and especially by the Canadian business community working hard away from home.

Kevin Park, Junior Team Canada Ambassador

Komaspec Asia - Factory Visit & Briefing

On our first day in Ghangzhou, China, Junior Team Canada had the opportunity to see first-hand how a Canadian entrepreneur had found success in Asia. Six years ago, Maxime Bérubé and Francis Gervais were college graduates who had little capital to start a business. Today, Komaspec is a 12,500 square-foot factory that manufactures over 800 different products annually for clients from industries around the world.

Turnkey manufacturing describes a complete manufacturing function that manages all manufacturing and supply chain services, including material acquisition, assembly, test, and aftermarket service and warranty support. Komaspec chose a turnkey model right from the start, because they recognized that the niche market of innovative gadgets would drive their business model, instead of the mass-produced simple-to-make items.

As cost of labor increase in Asia the demand for the type of goods naturally shifts as well. 10 years ago, almost all the world’s demand on Asian manufacturing was in mass-produced, low quality goods. Today, there is a shift towards higher quality and customized products. As a result, this shift creates a demand that traditional Chinese companies cannot fulfill, and an entry point for SMEs like Komaspec to succeed.

“The more complex the design, the more of a competitive advantage we have.” says Bérubé. During our tour of the factory, we witnessed the manufacturing process of a container for stem cells, a revolutionary gaming device, and an innovative snow plow developed by a Quebec company.

Bérubé stressed the importance of finding the “right” opportunity and focusing one’s efforts. Serving a niche market in contract manufacturing, Komaspec has achieved its mission of being the fastest and most competitive operation in its field and is a leading model for others to follow.

by Richard Sookraj and James Sun, Junior Team Canada Ambassadors

To learn more about Komaspec, visit http://www.komaspec.com/

Press Release: JTC Lands in Singapore

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: High Commissioner Heather Grant Welcomes Junior Team Canada to Singapore

Singapore — (August 12th, 2013), Global Vision

Canada’s High Commissioner to Singapore, Ms. Heather Grant, welcomed 31 Junior Team Canada (JTC) Ambassadors to Singapore, Canada’s third largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), on Monday morning.

Following a preliminary overview of Singapore and the ASEAN market by Commissioner Grant, the Ambassadors participated in several briefings by trade commissioners in the sectors of clean-technology, defense & aerospace, agriculture, and life sciences. The speaker panel preceding the briefings included: Chia Wan Liew, Chief Representative of the Export Development Bank of Canada; Caroline Berube, Managing Partner at HJM Asia Law & Co. LLC; and Huijin Kong, Counselor and Program Leader at LinHart Group Pte. Ltd.

“Starting a business in China requires comittment to things like a commercial lease for a minimum duration of 12 months.” explains Pedro Burgarelli, a Junior Team Canada Ambassador from Montreal, Quebec. “In Singapore however, you can set up a business very quickly, in a few days. With it’s prominence in the ASEAN market and it’s free trade economy, Singapore would be a great market for Canadian entrepreneurs to set up in, especially in research-intensive sectors.”

The Canada-Singapore relationship is strengthened by cooperation in multilateral forums such as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC and with dialogue through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Canada’s support for Singapore’s entry as an observer entity in the Artic Council, and conversely Singapore’s support for Canada’s involvement in the developing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, both demonstrate the close ties between the two nations.

Global Vision and Junior Team Canada would like to thank Commissioner Grant and the Trade Commissioners with the Canadian High Commission in Singapore for their continuous support of this mission.

Singapore, A Balancing Act

Having been denied entry to the gaming floor, the security was kind enough to direct us to the upper level. The top tier restaurants featured in Marina Bay Sands include Wolfgang Puck's CUT, Mario Bateli's Osteria Mozza, and Guy Savoy. Our circuitous route up led up past Armani, Louis Vuitton, and BVLGARI as well as a world class centre for the performing arts

2 years ago, when I lived here on a University exchange, the Broadway rendition of the Lion King was playing in this theatre. Nearby, at the Art Science Museum (there is some argument as to whether it is shaped like a lotus flower or the Buddha's Palm), Vincent Dali was being featured, as well as the HMS Titanic's travelling exhibit. Across the street sits the Marina Bay Sands Resort: literally, a cruise ship (the resort) that has been placed on top of three 194 metre columns (the hotel).

Approaching the balcony on the casino's third floor is a truly vertigo-inducing experience. We were able to snap the shots (above) before being informed that pictures were not allowed. The pictures don't do it justice; the sense of scale is all wrong. Staring down, past the second floor gaming area in the world's largest atrium casino, and into the gaming pit, one tends to lose perspective. There is a spot, about 30 degrees from straight down, where one can see nothing in their field of view except gaming tables. People look diminutive, and the casino maintains the frenetic pace, and the organized-but-chaotic atmosphere of an ant hill.

The construction of Marina Bay Sands was a hotly contested issue. It's only Singapore's second casino. The Singaporean government had to balance the protection of its citizens from the perils of gambling, with the huge revenue that an international casino and resort would provide. In order to effectively strike this balance, Singaporean citizens are discouraged from gambling through a $100 per person cover charge. Foreigners, however, or at least those over the age of 21 and who have valid passports, may join the throng for free.

Singapore has only recently been confronted with the trappings of success, and the balancing act its government has played in deciding to construct Marina Bay Sands, then create regulation around its citizen's entry, perfectly exemplifies one of the major challenges faced by the Singaporean government: how do you take a citizenry into the middle class with alacrity, open up to international trade, and still maintain the welfare of a population whose culture isn't necessarily ready to resist the glitz and glamour of North American opulence that comes part and parcel with international trade?

by Brandon Hastings, BBA, JD, Junior Team Canada Ambassador

http://www.bhastings.com

ICT Sector Summary

Sector Summary: Information & Communication Technologies in South Asia

Many factors contribute towards South Asia's international reputation as both a leading manufacturing complex and a major commercial centre within the world. While many factors such as the economic policy of free enterprise and free trade, the rule of law, a well educated and industrious workforce, a sophisticated commercial infrastructure, as well as development of ports and airport which are among the world’s finest are important, an emerging factor that attracts the attention of the world to this specific region is the fast-paced growth of their I.C.T Sector.

As a student interested in learning more about investments geared towards the Technology, Media, and Telecommunication industries, I have been a keen observer of the way the improvements in technology and infrastructure have affected the regions' society and culture. As a race that heavily values the concept of efficiency and effectiveness, it is only inevitable that the way people communicate has shifted tremendously in the last decade. Unlike in the North American society, the Asian world is heavily reliant on smartphone as well as portable technologies, up to a point that this technology is subtly being integrated to everyday tasks such as ordering a cup of coffee through the use of E-Wallets and booking a taxi through SMS messages.

While there is large variance across Asia's ICT infrastructure landscape, there are centralized themes and factors driving innovation and development, largely deriving from the region's increasing economic integration, which in turn has several important effect for ICT technology purchase. Intra-regional trade and investments as well as increasing foreign demand has made South Asia one of the world's fastest-growing economic regions. The fact that carriers and enterprises largely avoided the global Financial Crisis has proved that it is more convenient for them to make decisions on next-generation technology, such as the introduction of Long-Term Evolution technology and other 4G mobile upgrades.

This economic robustness, and the continuous cycle of regional integration that has supported it, has also facilitated cross-ownership in telecommunication and particularly mobile network operations. An example of this would be Singapore's SingTel as well as Malaysia's Axiata who hold stakes in operators in Thailand, Indonesia, and other ASEAN nations.

As well, the Asian nations are currently experiencing difficulties while dealing with the flow of information. The growing concern has led the Asian market to become early adopters of technology that has just been introduced to the North American and European markets. By transferring most of their collection to the Cloud servers and technology, government organizations and multinational corporations that are headquartered in South Asia has been able to centralize their database and reduce the need for manual I.T tasks, allowing their human capital to automate their systems and allocate more of their efforts in developing strategies.

In conclusion, I can say that I was tremendously enlightened by the rapid growth of the ICT industry of South Asia. Through such growth, I was able to determine three key opportunities that could potentially rise from this on-going trend: Wireless Build, Next Generation Networking, and Mobile Media. These three sector are not as well promoted to the Western world, however, shows promising future for investors as they are all experiencing fast-paced growth. By providing services dealing with Wireless Broadband technologies, I.T Solutions (Hardware and Software), and mobile content services, there is no doubt that Canadian investors and entrepreneurs could see success in the years to come.

by Andrew Shon, Junior Team Canada Ambassador

Singapore's Culture!

Singapore is extraordinarily diverse. Fifteen percent of Singapore's population is Muslim. It's citizens are also Catholic, Buddhist, and Hindu. With all of Singapore's diversity it is also home to a wide variety of languages. Singaporeans do not only speak Mandarin and Cantonese, they also speak English, Malay, and Tamil. Compared to home in Canora Saskatchewan where I have only been exposed to one language. Singapore also has a unique heritage, arts, and culture scene. Singapore hosts a lot of festivals, including; art, film and writing festivals. These are only a few of the cultural activities available to Singapore's residents.

Singapore is also home to a world leading gastronomy scene. To really experience Singapore's diversity, one may visit different parts of Singapore. In Chinatown, you can enjoy traditional, authentic Chinese food. By walking down the street to Little India you get the authentic Indian experience. It is possible to mentally transport oneself from India to China by walking down the street.

What amazes me most is that Singapore has so many different cultures and aspects of living in a single island state.  Singapore’s variety of culture reminds me a lot of Canada’s cultural diversity, as a common feature is something which allows Singaporeans and Canadians a gateway into each others lives, cultures, and realities.

 

Adventures while Chasing the JTC Bus

The following recount describes my experience missing the Junior Team Canada bus – not even in a figurative manner. Towards the end of the presentations at the Canadian Consulate General in Guangzhou, I met Trade Commissioner Assistant Ms. Corrnie Wang, one of twenty local employees at the office, who generously helped me connect with a local print shop for getting revised copies of JTC’s resource guide. The digital file for the booklet was being revised in Canada and there was no way to obtain it without email. The obstacle was that the internet connectivity in China is heavily restricted by what is known colloquially as the Great Firewall of China. To bypass it to check Gmail, one would have to log into the page www.accounts.google.com.hk before loading the inbox. After forwarding the file to Ms. Wang, I was surprised that my colleagues had left and no one at the China Hotel meeting room knew their whereabouts. Then if finally sunk in: I had missed the bus. The only logical step was returning to my room at the Leeden Hotel to rejoin the group later at dinner. This required getting the bellboy to search up the address on his smartphone and explain to the taxi driver the directions – a strange concept at the time. Upon returning, I realized it was impossible to contact my teammates, so my only bet was to refer to JTC’s agenda and contact the organization we were visiting. Luckily, I was connected to a helpful secretary, Eling Cheung from our inviter Jade and Company, who was aware of our visit to the Komaspec manufacturing factory in Guangzhou. She emailed me the address in both Chinese and English, and I proceeded outside to a taxi and learned it would take at least an hour and 50 kilometers of travel. This meant I would arrive with less than half an hour to spare before the JTC ambassadors left the factory. Finally, after negotiating a HKD $160 (CAD $27) flat rate, we began our ride chasing the bus.

The taxi driver and I bonded instantly, discussing culture, economics, careers, family, and JTC’s visitation in Guangzhou. It was smooth sailing until we arrived in the general region of the factory and the driver had no idea where the factory was. I quickly realized that drivers were not familiar with many of the city’s regions, and that cabs were not equipped with maps or GPS navigation. We consulted more than seven locals on the streets, ranging from street cleaners to tourists, most of which gave us conflicting directions. Borrowing a cellphone, I called Jade and Company again and the secretary tried to explain the location to the driver without much success. After getting more roadside assistance from locals, we both couldn’t be more relieved to find our destination.

Unfortunately, there was no bus to found, but I was excited to explore the busy factory with a chance to stretch my legs after sitting in the cab for two hours. Francis Gervais, engineer and Komspec’s Vice-President of Sales, warmly greeted me in the office and I was informed the JTC bus left ten minutes ago, an early departure. Fortunately, Mr. Gervais and I briefly discussed my mandate, Kaleid Snow Gear, who is seeking a manufacturer in Asia.

At the end of the day, I learned that taxi rates are affordable in Guangzhou, and GPSs are better with directions and addresses. Oh, and don’t miss the JTC bus – both literally and figuratively.

Bill Wang, Junior Team Canada Ambassador

Consulate Briefing - Hong Kong

Sector Briefing - Canadian Consulate of Hong Kong

Hong Kong SAR — (August 2nd, 2013), Global Vision

Junior Team Canada attended a sector briefing at the Canadian Consulate in Hong Kong on Friday, hosted by Mr. Ian Burchett, Consul General of Canada to Hong Kong; Ms. Kendal Hembroff, Senior Trade Commissioner; Mr. Jean-Christian Brillant, Consul for Foreign Policy and Diplomacy; and several Trade Commissioners from the Clean-tech, Life-sciences, Agriculture, and financial sectors.

Mr. Burchett stressed the importance of building meaningful relationships when doing business in Hong Kong, where a personal relationship through several points of interaction should precede a commercial relationship. He emphasized the need for Junior Team Canada to ensure follow up and further development of the local relationships we initiate for our mission partners in Hong Kong.

Following a trade and policy briefing by Ms. Hembroff and Mr. Brillant, the Ambassadors split up into groups for individual sector briefings with Trade Commissioners on the topics of Clean-tech, Life-sciences, Agriculture, and investment attraction. Through their discussions the Ambassadors initiated key connections related to their sector responsibilities, and began the process of booking meetings with local companies and organizations with the assistance of the Canadian Trade Commission.

"I learned that you need to take a very different approach when doing business here", says Rafael Pozuelo-Perron, one of Quebec City's four Junior Team Canada Ambassadors on this mission. "It's not just a two step process of 'come-and-go' like in Canada, you really need to put in a lot of effort in developing a sincere relationship." Working with his partners Canmec Group, a Saguenay engineering firm; and Bilodeau, a Canadian fur trade and taxidermy company, Rafael plans help them develop a better understanding of how business works in Hong Kong and assist them in realize their long-term business objectives in Asia.

Trade Briefing: HKTDC

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Trade Briefing: Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (HKTDC)

Hong Kong SAR — (August 2nd, 2013), Global Vision

Junior Team Canada attended a trade briefing with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) on Friday, hosted by Iris Wong, Head of International Relations, at their head office located in the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong. Ms. Wong briefed JTC on HKTDC's core services, Hong Kong's economic composition, and it's competitive advantages for conducting business both locally and around the world.

Among the topics discussed were Hong Kong’s vibrant economy as a trade and finance hub in Asia, it's competitive advantages in geography, and it's political and economic standing with Mainland China. For example, the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement with Mainland China enables businesses based in Hong Kong to export into mainland China without being subject to tariffs and duties. This includes products that have been partially processed in Hong Kong, where businesses may locate value-added services to qualify for the duty-free status.

Hong Kong can also act a risk manager for entering other Asian regions, as the legal system of Hong Kong is based on Common Law and can offer a measure of protection for businesses entering contracts in Hong Kong to do business in Mainland China.

"The idea of basing the business agreement in Hong Kong to access other Asian markets was definitely new to me." says Laura Weinbender, Junior Team Canada Ambassador for Saskatchewan. "Although my partners are mostly in the Agricultural sector and Hong Kong may not be a direct market for them, it would be important to consider drafting their contracts in Hong Kong because of the legal system here. The system offers better protection and more power for Canadian companies in negotiations."

About Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (HKTDC)

HKTDC was established in 1966 as an international marketing arm for Hong Kong–based traders, manufactures and service providers. The council offers a variety of platforms and business-matching services, connecting small and medium-sized enterprises in Hong Kong with business partners from all over the world through a global network of over 40 offices worldwide. Visit http://www.hktdc.com/ for more information.

JTC Mission Launch!

31 Youth Selected to Represent Canada on International Trade Mission to Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and Malaysia

Ottawa, Ontario — (July 10th, 2013), Global Vision

31 young Canadians will be traveling to Asia on an international trade mission this summer from July 31st to August 19th, visiting Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and Malaysia, as part of Global Vision’s Junior Team Canada program.

Junior Team Canada is a delegation of youth ambassadors that represent Canada both at home and abroad, through national conferences, international trade missions, and special assignments like the G8, G20, and APEC summits. 20-30 youth are selected through a nationwide selection process each year, giving these young leaders the opportunity to experience international trade and diplomacy first hand.

As Junior Team Canada Ambassadors they will meet with leaders from business, government, and the community to promote Canada’s economic interests, learn about business and culture in Asia, and further develop trade relationships in the region. The 2013 mission will be focused on the clean-tech & renewable energy, information technology, agriculture food & beverages, mining & resource extraction, education, real estate, and finance sectors.

“The mission is going to open up a world of new and exciting opportunities for them,” says Amy Giroux, Director of Global Vision and Junior Team Canada. “These dynamic young leaders are getting the experience and skills they need to help strengthen Canada’s presence in the global marketplace.”

About Global Vision

Global Vision - Junior Team Canada (JTC) is a Canadian non-for-profit organization founded in 1991 by Terrance Clifford, MP London-Middlesex (1984-1993) and Member of the Order of Canada. Global Vision’s objective is to give youth hands-on experiences in international trade and community leadership to produce top global leaders that build the future of Canada.

Global Vision’s flagship program, Junior Team Canada, has led missions to over 30 countries on 6 continents, the most recent being to Colombia and Panama in July 2012. Since its founding in 1990, it has equipped hundreds of Canadian youth leaders with the skills, experience and knowledge they need to become extraordinary leaders. The organization has been responsible for delegations on Team Canada Trade Missions, the APEC Summit, Inter American Development Bank, G8 and G20 Summits, as well as a variety of other top level international events.

For more information on Global Vision and its programs, visit www.globalvision.ca
Information Media Only: Amy Giroux: 1-888-829-2838 | amy@globalvision.ca