SHANGHAI (GNB) – A delegation from New Brunswick has concluded a weeklong trade mission to China, where the group promoted companies and products and highlighted the province as a tourism destination and educational hub.

“New Brunswickers have always been proud of our people and our products. Now, the world knows,” said Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau. “It has been my honour to join innovative and dedicated companies exploring new opportunities in an important international market.”

Roy Vienneau and Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet led the delegation, which included manufacturers and seafood and agri-food producers. The mission is part of an effort to build stronger trade relationships in China, which is New Brunswick’s third-largest export market.

“The quality of products from New Brunswick is opening doors for our companies,” said Doucet. “The commitment these businesses are showing is earning them new and repeat business in China. The relationship between New Brunswick and China is a positive one for our economy and our people.”

Business relationships

Events in Beijing and Shanghai spotlighted New Brunswick businesses, connecting them with partners and buyers in China. The provincial government also organized group events and pre-arranged business meetings for mission participants.

“Face-to-face meetings are important here, and having the lieutenant-governor and the minister here with us helps demonstrate that commitment to our partners,” said Amédée Savoie, general manager of Neguac-based oyster producer Maison BeauSoleil. “We employ 50 people full time and our suppliers employ almost 300 people. Expanding into new markets helps our business succeed.”

Chinese retailers

While in China, Roy Vienneau and Doucet visited the JD 7Fresh retail store operated by Chinese online retailer Doucet helped demonstrate how Canadians break open their lobster and helped a chef use wild blueberries to prepare a jam that can be packed as a homemade gift as part of Lunar New Year celebrations on Feb. 16.

Bay Shore Lobster Ltd. of Back Bay already ships products to clients in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. This mission allowed the company to strengthen those relationships and explore new opportunities.

“China has become our main market thanks to missions like this one,” said the company’s owner, Nathan Song. “We had productive meetings this week with and HEMA, which are some of the biggest points of sale in China. These trade missions provide benefits in New Brunswick, allowing us to continue to grow our business.”

ClairiTech Innovations sells clean-air systems across North America. This was the company’s first visit to China.

“China represents a huge potential market for us,” said ClairiTech president Serge Colin. “During this mission, I met with homebuilders, property management companies and researchers studying air quality in China. This is a first step to establishing relationships that I am confident will lead to future sales.”

Relationship building

Roy Vienneau and Doucet also participated in the signing of a twinning agreement with the governor of Hebei. The province, which has a population of 73 million people, is poised for growth, having been designated as a special economic zone to promote development in the region.

Lulujo is the first New Brunswick company to establish a Tmall Global flagship store in China on the world's largest e-commerce platform, Alibaba. This mission allowed the company to explore potential relationships with other major online retailers.

“We are anticipating more growth, and we will need additional staff at home in New Brunswick to maintain and grow in the market,” said Lulujo CEO Dawn Pottier. “Support from Opportunities NB and trade missions like this one are important in forming relationships with international partners.”

Tourism and education

The Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture focused on building New Brunswick travel itineraries specific to the interests of Chinese visitors during meetings with 12 travel corporations in China. The delegation also met with several members of the travel media to help generate interest in New Brunswick’s attractions.

China is now the second-largest overseas market for travellers coming to Canada. Between January and October 2017, more than 600,000 Chinese tourists visited Canada, an increase of 10 per cent over the previous year. That rate of increase is expected to double in 2018.

“The business people, tourism operators and journalists we met were fascinated by the images of New Brunswick,” said Doucet. “We told them of the unique sights to see and activities you can only experience here.”

Representatives of the University of New Brunswick also participated in the mission to highlight advantages the institution offers students from China.

Presentations were held in Beijing and Shanghai for prospective immigrants interested in learning more about qualifying for New Brunswick’s provincial nominee program. Roy Vienneau and Doucet participated in the official opening of the new Fuzhou Concord College of Sino-Canada, one of 15 schools offering the New Brunswick curriculum in China. During the opening, a contest was launched for Grade 12 students of Concord College of Sino-Canada campuses. The students have been asked to create two-minute videos about New Brunswick as a unique travel destination. The prize for the winning student and their family is a seven-day vacation in New Brunswick.