A delegation of businesses and politicans from the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) are conducting a trade mission to China this week.
Having departed May 14, political representatives including 100 Mile and District Mayor Mitch Campsall and CRD Chair Al Richmond as well as District of Wells mayor Robin Sharpe, alongside business representatives from South Cariboo businesses such as Sitka Log Homes, Trinity Post and Panel and Tolko, will spend 10 days in meetings around the country. Joining the CRD will also be the Metro Vancouver Regional District chair and Port Coquitlam mayor as well as the mayor of Port Moody.
“Our goal this trip is, with the encouragement of the folks from Vancouver and the Canadian Mayors’ Group, to make people aware of the opportunities we have and the products we can export,” said Al Richmond, over the phone from China.
Meetings for elected representatives will take place in tandem for those from the business community.
“When industry comes along with their elected officials it makes a big difference in the willingness of companies over here and their mayors to meet with us,” said Richmond. He says a particular focus of the trip for the region will be on the lumber industry.
“Our goal, with respect to the lumber embargo in the States, is to change the [export] percentages and open up a few more markets in China. We’re not suggesting that it’s going to be a huge amount of contracts signed this trip, but we build the friendship and build the knowledge,” he said.
Ken Harper, C.E.O. of Trinity Post and Panel based out of the South Cariboo, will be part of the business delegation.
“My goal is to potentially raise some money and bring home some contracts,” he said.
“It just gives Trinity a little bit of a shot in the arm in terms of sales opportunities to create some more jobs and create sustainability for the long term.”
In the two months since he was invited on the trip, Harper and his company have been preparing Chinese brochures, presentations and opportunities to offer investment or export potential for the company.
“We’re representing 100 Mile here and we want to bring something back.”
Richmond and Campsall are quick to point out that the mission’s main purpose is to build partnerships.
“Hopefully we get some interest. It’s not something that happens overnight, but we are working really hard and if the reception that we are getting is any indication of what is possible, we are looking at some good possibilities down the road,” said Campsall.
The delegation will also be looking to create partnerships in terms of education, creating exchange opportunities for students in the region.
The delegation of regional district chairs, mayors, senior staff and business reps will visit Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shanwei in the Guangong province, Suzhou in the Anhui province, and Zhengzhou and Dengfeng in the Henan province. The group will take part in meetings, municipal facility tours, educational visits, cultural tours and site visits.
The visit is following up on delegations from China that have visited the region over the past year. The CRD has hosted several Chinese business delegations, as well as hosted elite Chinese martial art performances over the summer.
“That was a beginning,” said Campsall. “It was actually a very great beginning for us because they saw what we are about, who we are and they saw us in our own communities that we really pushed very hard.”
Now, they hope to continue to further the relationships.
“Because of all of us here, it’s opened up doors for us, it’s opened up eyes; we do work together and it’s showing. The opportunity that we are opening to our communities and for our businesses could be huge,” said Campsall.