December 9, 2016 10:32 am
Updated: December 9, 2016 9:46 pm

Alberta Trade minister hails Asia mission a success

WATCH ABOVE: The Alberta NDP says a recent trade mission to Asia is expected to result in new jobs in the province. Tom Vernon reports.

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A recent trade mission to Japan and China by Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous led to the signing or announcement of 20 agreements, and the opportunity for more than 80 Alberta businesses and organizations to forge new ties.

While there, the minister and business leaders met with Chinese business and government leaders, and took part in food and forestry expos.

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“Every other country and province in this country are all there on the ground competing for space,” Bilous said during a media availability to speak about the trip on Friday morning.

“This is what makes it absolutely critical that we need to be there, and we need to be there often.”

READ MORE: Alberta minister leads major trade delegation to ‘priority markets’ Japan and China

The province has nine dedicated trade offices in Asia, led by Ron Hoffmann, Alberta’s senior representative to the Asia Pacific Basin.

“I know, from my experience, that this mission has created much needed jobs in Alberta,” Hoffmann said.

“It’s a market that has different business rules, different culture and language, and the support we give to our companies, especially our smaller companies, in that market makes a concrete difference for their success.”

Among the companies on the tour was Siwin Foods, which produces dumplings and sausage products at a facility in Edmonton. The company has expanded to have its products in stores across Canada, and has just recently signed an agreement to start selling products in Japan.

“I don’t think that we would have been successful in listing our product into Japan without the help of the offices that are in these foreign countries,” said the company’s vice president Gord Dejong.

The company has recently added another shift to its production facility, and now employs 70 people. With this new market opening up, there are now plans for further expansion.

“The population is huge in Japan, and in China, so we feel it’s a huge advantage to have access to that market.”

 

READ MORE: Alberta turns to Asia; hopes to boost tourism $10.3B

The trip marked the second time Bilous went to Asia in 2016.

China and Japan are Alberta’s second- and third-largest trading partners, respectively.

The province said in 2015, Alberta’s two-way trade with the two nations totalled more than $7.8 billion. Alberta’s trade with China increased by 16 per cent in 2015.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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