Team Canada Trade Mission 2001 - Commercial Setting

Since economic modernization became the hallmark of Chinese government policy in 1978, China's economy has more than quadrupled. Annual growth has averaged a remarkable 9 percent, and is projected to continue at a similarly impressive rate into the next century. While the Asian Financial Crisis had affected a number of regional economies, China's economy maintained growth trends, and the market for Canadian technology, products and services remains quite strong.

China has grown to become the seventh-largest economy in the world in terms of GDP (gross domestic product), and represents an immense market for commercial, industrial, agricultural and consumer goods. Together with Hong Kong, whose distinct role in the region is preserved through the "one country, two systems" policy, China has emerged as the economic engine of the Asia Pacific region, with corresponding political influence.

Canada-China bilateral trade has grown rapidly over the last quarter century. From a mere $161 million in 1970 when diplomatic relations were established, two-way trade grew to $11.5 billion in 1999. China is Canada's fourth-largest trading partner after the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. In 1999, Canadian two-way trade with Hong Kong totalled $2.4 billion, with another $5.3 billion in two-way direct investment flows in 1998, making Hong Kong the 8th most important foreign source of investment to Canada.

While Canadian firms must plan carefully and take a strategic approach in their development of commercial relations with China and Hong Kong, there is significant real potential in the region. China's commitment to economic reforms, coupled with its pursuit of WTO accession, is helping to ensure improved access for Canadian exporters. The economies are expected to continue to expand, and should continue to generate promising opportunities for exporters in sectors where Canadian firms have a comparative advantage. Opportunities for Canadian firms are particularly promising in the following sectors: environmental technologies; construction and building products; agriculture and agri-food; information and communications technologies; educational technologies and services; energy, resources and related technologies; transportation industries; health and financial services.