Sunday, September 30, 2018

Reflections on Premier Scott Moe’s Visit to China


I.                    Background
Canada is the first country in the west to initiate trade relationships with China, and established an official diplomatic relationship with China in October 1970. Not many people know that Saskatchewan played a crucial part in it as both Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and Agricultural Minister Alvin Hamilton (who are from Saskatchewan) promoted the export of wheat to China in 1961. With an uncertain future of the NAFTA negotiations, the US retaliation on China and Canada, and the complimentary economic structure between China and Saskatchewan, there is a growing importance to expand trade with China. Actually China is now the second largest trading partner with Saskatchewan, reaching $3.5 billion in the last 5 years. Also, Saskatchewan is a world leader in food, fuel and fertilizer production and exports, with some of them listed below:

Saskatchewan’s Food Production in Canada and the World
Agricultural Item
SK’s Exp in Canada’s Exp (%)
SK’s Exp in World Exp (%)
Canary Seed
87
71
Hyacinth Bean
98
65
Durum
87
39
Oats
62
36
Flaxseed
83
36
Leaf Mustard Seed
57
25
Source: Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership, updated Sept 30, 2018, http://ca.chinapulse.org/article/misc/2.html.

II.                  Overview of the Visit
A particular focus of the trip was on Saskatchewan’s value-added agriculture sector. The Premier met with Chinese government entities, including the Governor of Heilongjiang, the Chinese Ministry of Environment and Ecology, the Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. The Saskatchewan delegation was also joined by more than 20 Saskatchewan companies at the STEP – Canada China Business Council Showcase focused on promoting Saskatchewan’s exports to China. Cameco CEO, Tim Gitzel, accompanied Moe in meetings with a number of Chinese nuclear agencies, including the China Atomic Energy Authority, China National Nuclear Corporation, and China General Nuclear Power Group, to advance efforts to enable additional exports of Saskatchewan uranium to China, a vital economic interest to Northern Saskatchewan[i]. Mr. Gitzel said China was Camecao's major market, and Cameco was the fastest growing nuclear producer in the world. Premier Moe and representatives from Canpotex and Mosaic also attended meetings and events that promoted the export and increased use of Saskatchewan potash, including meetings with major potash buyers and partners, including Beifeng Corporation and Sinochem/Sinofert. Beifeng Corporation, which is directly under Heilongjiang Supply and Market Cooperative, is the largest border potash importer both for China and Russia, and its imports from Saskatchewan now surpasses that of Sinochem. During the visit, the closest thing to a firm agreement out of the trip came in the form of a memorandum of understanding between the Regina-based Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Knowledge Centre and the China Petroleum University, “to advance our shared interest in using CCS for enhanced oil recovery.”[ii]



III.                Reflections
It should be applauded for Mr. Moe to visit China with a large delegation at this critical moment, and the relationship with Beifeng may bring forward unexpected fruits, as it is a breakthrough after the relationship with Sinochem. Nevertheless, something could be done to achieve a better result. More Chinese trade and culture experts should be consulted, and meetings may be arranged beforehand with Bardish Chagger, the current Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the former Minister of Small Business and Tourism, who had visited China several times. Also, although food was a major topic for the visit, talk with China’s Ministry of Agriculture was not mentioned.

IV.                Conclusion
As everyone may hear the saying “no pains, no gains” and another “you reap what you sow”. Therefore, while we may not see any fruits right now, we have laid a relatively solid foundation.


[i] Premier Scott Moe considers recent Chinese trade mission a success, Naina Rishiraj, Global News, Sept 25, 2108, please click the link to view the whole article as shown below https://globalnews.ca/news/4486103/premier-scott-moe-returns-from-successful-trade-mission-in-china/.
[ii] D.C. FRASER: No trade deal but Premier Moe optimistic about China trip, REGINA LEADER-POST, Sept 25, 2018, please click the link to view the complete article as shown below https://leaderpost.com/news/saskatchewan/no-trade-deal-but-premier-moe-
optimistic-about-china-trip. 

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