Business Delegation to China – Mission Accomplished!!
A 14-day action-packed business mission to China organised last November by the Confederation of the Greater Toronto Chinese Business Association (CGTCBA) was hailed as a “big success” by Ben Leung, one of the mission’s co-chairs.
The 10 cities covered on this visit, from Beijing to Hong Kong, provided valuable platforms for the delegation’s 34 members to meet and greet old contacts and new acquaintances in both public and private sectors. “How much our members are going to benefit from the visit depends on their follow-up actions,” said Leung.
The mission was led by Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of the City of Markham. Hazel McCallion, the legendary former Mayor of Mississauga, now a consultant at Hurricane Hazel, was the senior member in the delegation. Other members included owners, CEOs and senior executives from a wide range of businesses in the Greater Toronto Area.
The key objectives of this mission were to promote and further strengthen economic, business and cultural ties between Canada and China through a series of well-organised business meetings, information sharing sessions and in-depth briefings on business opportunities available in both countries.
The delegation had an action-packed schedule. It visited Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuhan, Chongqing, Huadu, Jiangmen, Foshan and Hong Kong, with special focus on the peripheral cities and districts with high growth potential.
In China’s national capital of Beijing, the delegation returned to Funhill where they first visited three years ago. The district has been planned to be a high tech, entertainment and shopping hub. Members attended a business and investment meeting organized by the local government; and met with business leaders and representatives in related sectors.
In Tianjin, the delegation attended a Canada-China Economic and Investment Forum arranged by Fang Li, the former Consul General of China in Toronto. It was organized by the Tianjin Development and Reform Commission. Members of the delegation visited Tianjin’s Binhai Hi-Tech Industrial Development Area where they toured the Dawning Tianjin Industrial Base, home of China’s No. 1 domestic computer server brand and producer of the world’s second fastest computer servers.
After attending a business meeting in Suzhou, the delegation toured the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park. This industrial zone was a joint venture created in 1994 between the Chinese and Singapore governments. It was ranked as the most competitive industrial park for two consecutive years by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
Before leaving Shanghai, members attended a breakfast business and investment meeting in Nantong hosted by the Nantong municipal government. The delegation then split into two groups, with one group travelling to Chongqing to attend the 6th Healthy Living Expo & International Trade Show, joined a business meeting and visited industrial facilities before flying to Guangdong.
The other group, led by Mayor Scarpitti visited Wuhan, Markham’s sister city.
The delegation joined a seminar introducing the investment opportunities in Canada which was hosted by the Canada Hubei Chamber of Commerce and attended by over 80 Chinese business executives. Members also toured the Sino-French Wuhan Ecological Demonstration City and met with the city’s developers after attending business matching meetings.
The team then departed for Guangdong’s Haudu, attending a business seminar and visiting the Dongfeng Motor Corporation, before proceeding to Jiangmen.
The two groups rejoined in Nanhai and participated in a business promotion seminar before visiting the Monalisa Group, which is specialized in producing polished porcelain tiles, glazed porcelain tiles, ceramics and laminated porcelain panels.
The group’s last stop was Hong Kong where its members attended the Business IP Asia Forum and joined the World SME Expo hosted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
This was the third trade mission organized by the CGTCB, with the first one being held in May 2010. Some members were not new to the delegation. “The first time you went there was to know your business counterparts and learn about the business opportunities. The second time was to follow up and get more in-depth exchanges,” said Leung, who is also a vice president of RHMCBA.
“Whether the trip is fruitful or not solely depends how you follow up,” he concluded.
Annie Ho, President of RHMCBA, joined the CGTCBA’s trade mission for the first time. She says members have gained at least two key benefits from joining this mission.
“First, members learned about the latest developments in China through first-hand information and experience by meeting directly with business counterparts in the mainland. We were briefed about local investment projects by municipal government officials and left with the knowledge of how to take part in them,” explained Ho.
“Second, while we all knew each other prior to the trip, everyone developed stronger friendships during this 14-day trip. In the future, these connections may become business ones. Also, if members have friends or clients who need the services which other members can provide, they will provide referrals.”
“The trip’s expenses were high but the first-hand experience with Chinese officials in all the cities and towns were invaluable,” Ho remarked. “China is very advanced in many ways with its hardware developing at a very fast pace. But there is room for the improvement of its software,” observed Ho. She has no doubt that this trade mission will be beneficial to both the participants and China in the future.
New Rental Model Helps Incubate New Businesses
Unlike Annie Ho who was new to the trade mission, Will Sung joined the delegation for the third time. The biggest insight he gained from this trip was how commercial property vacancy rate can be reduced by adopting a new rental model.
As the owner of Landstars 360 Realty Inc., Brokerage, Sung has more than 30 years’ experience in the real estate industry. He noted that the hi-tech parks in China are incubators for new businesses. “They support new entrepreneurs by giving them special offers. In return, they get shares from the enterprises and will receive dividends in the future.”
He suggested that this model can also be applied in Canada as there are many vacant commercial properties. “Landlords can do more than just renting out the premises; they can also help tenants build up their businesses by providing office space to them. They will then get shares from the entrepreneurs instead of rent.”
Sung believed that apart from the high tech industry, this kind of cooperation can be used in other sectors such as catering, in which the landlords provide space and the entrepreneurs recruit staff and run the daily business.
“Both partners will be able to share in the harvest. This is a win-win situation,” stressed Sung.
This former president of RHMCBA has another title – President of the Canadian Municipal Business Gateway (CMBG). He said that this tour gave him a better understanding of the development strategies and the industries in China, which will help CMBG promote the businesses to its members.
CMBG is an organization that promotes business opportunities and provides business networking services to its members. In the last two years, CMBG frequently visited the small towns outside the GTA to learn what they have as well as what they need.
During this tour, Sung paid special attention to the industries of the peripheral cities such as Funhill, Suzhou, Foshan and Nanhai, etc. “We aim at creating a platform to match the businesses between Canada and China, focusing on promoting second and third tier cities in the two counties,” stated Sung.
He believes that the counterparts will be involved in trading what they need in the beginning. “As they learn more about each other, they will then start investing,” expected Sung.