City Joins Premier’s Trade Mission to China
Prince George, B.C. – 250News has learned the City of Prince George participated in B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s recent trade mission to China.
Senior communications officer Mike Kellett says it followed a meeting Mayor Lyn Hall and members of Council had with International Trade Minister Teresa Wat at the Union of BC Municipalities meeting in September.
He says that discussion centred around “opportunities to open up Prince George markets to international trade and education as well as investors” and fit nicely with the City’s goals of “growing a more diversified and vibrant economy.”
Subsequently the City of Prince George was extended the invitation to participate in the Premier’s trip, which lasted from October 30 to November 7, as a way to “gain valuable contacts and information.”
City Manager Kathleen Soltis and Manager of Economic Development Melissa Barcellos represented the City and participated in face-to-face meetings with “key Chinese business and government officials” in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
The trip resulted in five memorandums of understanding with Chinese organizations related to Prince George specific projects in such areas as education, transportation, forest products, and hospitality.
However Barcellos cautions the MOUs are not a guarantee of future business.
“When you’re doing business with China, this is kind of the second step, first you make contact, building a relationship with your potential business partner then the next thing you do is an MOU,” she says, adding businesses there like to see government support.
“And once you have an MOU signed the relationship continues to move forward a little bit faster.”
The City says over $12,000 was spent on the trip which included airfare, travel, accommodation, and food.
Kellett says the decision to go on the trip was strictly an administrative decision made by the city manager.
Mayor Lyn Hall adds joining the Premier’s Trade Mission, which included representatives from six BC municipalities and more than 140 companies, was an opportunity too good to pass up.
“Particularly given the fact that you’re going with the premier and a large number of organizations and companies, it does open doors.”
He adds it wasn’t intentional that the City failed to publicize the trip prior to take-off or at Monday night’s council meeting.
“Quite honestly after we got back from UBCM we were moving forward with some things we thought the ministry staff could help us with and then all of a sudden we got the invitation and this all happened within just a week or 10 days.”
Would the City consider future trips?
“You know what happens is you’re invited to got and one day you’re not. But I think it’s something Melissa would deal with.”