Day 5 – Meetings on November 25th

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment

We met with several high level officials yesterday (Friday) from the Chengdu government, including the Standing Committee Member of CPC Chengdu Committee (just below the Mayor and a direct appointment of the Beijing Central Government), Director of the Chengdu Branch of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Vice Director of the Chengdu Investment promotion Commission, Vice Director of the Chengdu Municipal Affairs Office, Vice Director of the Chengdu Expo Bureau, Deputy Inspector, Chengdu Public Health Bureau.  We also toured and met with the heads of various complexes in the High Tech Zone, including Health City and the Tianfu Life Science Park.  The Chengdu High Tech Zone ranks fourth among the 55 high tech zones in China.  The Tianfu Life Science Park serves as the city’s financial, trade, scientific and technological centre.  Chengdu is home to nearly 400 biomedical enterprises. Chengdu’s pharmaceutical and manufacturing industry’s gross annual output ranks first in West China.  The Chengdu area boasts 42 general colleges and universities and more than 1,000 scientific research institutes. Chengdu has the world’s largest clinical education centre, which is certified by the American College of Surgeons in Asia. The Tianfu Life Science Park is fast becoming a leading innovation and incubator center for biomedical R & D and serves as a platform for the cooperation between international medical / clinical institutions.  Clearly, Chengdu like London has as one of its primary focus areas healthcare and life science. There are definitely opportunities for collaboration and investment in both Cities  by resident companies.  R & D is a clear focus and they are much more attuned to the importance of IP, in particular patent protection.

In my discussions with the CCPIT, they indicated they are very interested in creating a bridge with London through the Chamber.  They want to send us a an agreement for us to consider in this regard.  MOUs are seen as an essential first step to demonstrate that there is true commitment in creating a relationship and cooperation.  After our meeting and brief presentations on London, the CCPIT apprised me that they plan to send a delegation to London in November of next year.  We have to make sure that we maintain the momentum on building this relationship. 

I am leaving later today for Canada.  This has been an eye opening trip.  There is no doubt that China will be an innovation driven economy within the next ten years. World leading research and development is already taking place here and this will increase dramatically over the next decade.  I believe our members will benefit from the relationships we have been able to establish and those that will be established during our CEOs trip in April and thereafter.  These relationships will facilitate company matching, the communication of key information on the Chinese market, key contact points etc….

 Joaquim

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Team London’s Chamber Rep Signs International Agreement

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Chengdu, China:      Team London’s trip to China has resulted in a formal expansion of international relations for the city’s Chamber of Commerce. Following a meeting and presentations with the Sichuan Chamber of Commerce , Joaquim Balles, President of the London Chamber of Commerce was invited to sign a Friendly Cooperation Agreement as a first step towards establishing a framework between the two Chambers.  This agreement will facilitate Export and Import among members and investments in each City.  A formal signing ceremony followed with Mayor Fontana witnessing the signatures of the respective Chamber representatives. 

“The signing today opens the door to another important collaboration with a Chinese Chamber located in the fastest growing region in China. The cooperation will benefit our respective members and business community at large by facilitating international trade with China and leading to greater investment in both Cities.” said Joaquim Balles, President of the London Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Fontana continues to be extremely pleased with the outcomes of Team London’s trip to date.  The Mayor believes the opportunities are extensive.  He says, “There are more than 10 thousand companies looking to access Canadian NAFTA markets.  London is now poised to offer these companies the best opportunities to succeed by locating in London – where we have the geography – skilled workers and competitive advantages – agreement for numerous opportunities to create jobs and assessment for the city.”

The Sichuan Chamber’s membership is open only to companies that are involved in international trade – export / import.  They have a membership of about 10,000 companies and have established a relationship with Chambers in Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, Korea, Poland, Mexico, Hungary, and Taiwan. One of their primary objectives is to encourage collaboration between their member companies and member companies in other countries in order to facilitate international trade.  They have developed a process with their existing international Chamber partners to match Chinese companies with foreign companies and to communicate valuable information on topics such as how to do business in China.

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Day 4 – From Chongqing to Chengdu

November 24, 2011 Leave a comment

We met with the West China Hospital and Sichuan University this morning. These are the two entities that CSTAR and the University have established a relationship with.  Our visit was very well received. The WCH is the largest hospital in the World with 5,000 + beds and has been ranked the no. 2 hospital in China.  The WCH and the University   have been consistently ranked in the top 10 in the country with regard to research and academic excellence.  With regard to certain programs it has been ranked as high as no. 3 in the country.  There are a number of foreign multinational companies that have established relationships with the WCH and its many research laboratories and institutes.  The WCH is also looking to better capture IP development and exploitation relating to its research activities.  The morning part of today’s agenda was primarily directed at showing support for CSTAR’s initiatives with WCH and Sichuan University. We accomplished that goal and our visit was seen as a commitment to further strengthen the CSTAR relationship and willingness to expand it to other stakeholders.  The WCH has partnered with various other foreign countries and stakeholders.

In the afternoon the Mayor, the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs of the City of London, Vice Chair of Trudell and I met with senior officials (i.e. the President (Chair) , General Manager, International Manager and senior management of certain companies) at the Sichuan Chamber of Commerce.   They asked that we send them a Cooperation Agreement for their review.  The Canadian Trade Commissioner apprised us that this Chamber had expressed an interest to him to partner with a Canadian Chamber of Commerce and strongly recommended that we send a cooperation agreement to them.   Their Chamber concentrates solely on companies that are focused on international trade (i.e. import and/or export).  Their membership is in the 10,000 member range.  They have partnered with Chambers in Belgium, Taiwan, Korea, Poland, Germany, Britain, Hungary and Mexico.  These partnerships involve facilitating the matching of companies, dissemination of information regarding how to import products / services in China etc…  We met with a few of their members who are involved in facilitating the import of products into China and they passed on valuable information on the process that applies to medical devices.  Chengdu is another high growth area with areas of focus in the manufacturing, ICT and medical device fields. Many companies in this Chamber have experienced growth rates of 30% in the past year. They are turning their eyes to the international arena and more particularly now to North America.  So the timing is good.  The fact that the Mayor was with us was very well received and seen as a clear sign of commitment to partner.  They organized a signing ceremony for the Cooperation Agreement.  The Mayor will be signing a cooperation agreement on Saturday with the City of Chengdu.

Earlier this week (i.e. Tuesday) we meet with senior officials at the Chongqing Science and Technology Council, senior management at a generics pharmaceutical company, senior management at a wind power equipment manufacturer and with officials at Chongqing’s Children’s Hospital (ranked no. 3 in the country).  The meeting at the S & T Council brought home that China is focused on becoming an innovation driven economy by 2020 and that they appreciate the importance of intellectual property.  Research carried out by the Council has resulted in 12,000 + patents in the past 5 years.  A significant portion of the R & D is done in collaboration with foreign partners.  The Council has representative offices in certain countries, such as the U.S. No representative office in Canada…yet.  The wind power company we visited is looking to open a plant in North America.  They have established a representative office in Detroit and the President told me that he is very interested in investigating the possibility of opening a plant in Ontario. 

 On Wednesday we visited the largest hospital in Chongqing and then made our way to the signing ceremony at City Hall.  

 Joaquim

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Update from China – MOUs are Signed and Ecomomic Opportunities Closer

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Chongqing, China:     Earlier today senior Chongqing officials and business leaders joined with Mayor Fontana and Team London in a public signing ceremony that resulted in three MOU’s.  The ceremony was also attended by representatives from Jinshan Science and Technology Group, the Canadian Consulate in Chongqing, the Chongqing CCPIT and Chongqing media.

The first MOU was signed by Mayor Fontana, between the City of London and the Jinshan Group.  This was a public signing of the MOU approved by London Council in October.  It was witnessed by John Parker of CSTAR.  Mayor Fontana was extremely pleased with the results of the ceremony.  He said, “This public acknowledgement of our expanding relationship strengthens the business and cultural connections between our cities. They are the starting point toward greater opportunities for economic development and jobs for London.”

 The MOU focuses on opportunities to advance surgical robotics research, testing and training.

 John Parker, Director of CSTAR echoed the Mayor’s remarks. “The City of London – Jinshan MOU has brought forward many opportunities to London that will benefit academic, healthcare and industry sectors including collaborative research and development of diagnostic and surgical robotics.” 

 The second MOU signed links the London Chamber of Commerce and the Chongqing Private-Owned Business Association and brings London business closer to the establishment of an international network of Chambers.  The Chongqing Private-Owned Business Association boasts a million members and the group and London have now entered into a “Friendly Cooperation Agreement”.  Following the signing, Joaquim Balles, President of the London Chamber remarked on the expanded opportunities this brings to London.  He said, “This relationship along with the relationships established today with the City, CSTAR and Trudell should result in investment and jobs for both Cities.”

 The third MOU executed was between Trudell Medical Limited and The Jinshan Science and Technology Group of Chongqing China to assist each other in the identification and development of market opportunities in both China and Canada. “This collaboration is expected to result in the eventual creation of additional manufacturing and high-tech job opportunities in both London and China” says George Baran, Trudell Medical Vice-Chair.

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Day 2 – Making Business Connections in Chongqing

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Here is a summary of what occurred on Monday, November 21:

 

Team London at Haizhuang Windpower.

The man to Joe’s right is Zhu Ming, Director of International Business Dept of Haizhuang Windpower. Others in picture are Jinshan Group employees – from left – Walt Shi, International Sales Director;  Antonio Yang, Project Manager; Ms. Jingjing Chen, Investment Manager; Simba Gong, Vice CTO.

Consulate picture from this morning.

Vice Consul Lindsay Margenau and Consul Keith Kan are between Joe and George Baran.  Trade Commissioner Peter Liao is toward the right

London Chamber of Commerce Visit to China – Day 2

Early Morning     – visit to the Canadian Consulate’s Office in Chongqing.  We were provided an overview of Chongqing and the opportunities that exist for Canadian companies.  Chongqing is one of four Cities that has direct contact / reporting to the central Government.  This means its gets preferential treatment.  The third largest free trade zone / tax free zone is located in this area. They are currently in the process of building a high speed “freight” train that will link Chongqing with Europe (all the way to Belgium)! They expect to be able to get goods all the way to Belgium in 13 or less days. Chongqing is situated on the Yangtze River (3rd longest river in the world).  It links Chongqing directly to Shanghai on the coast.  So it can also ship goods the other way in a relatively cost effective manner.  To-date, there are 27 Canadian Companies that have established a presence in Chongqing. There is no one dominating sector.  The sectors represented include Financial, Trading and Education providers.  Canada’s four priorities for this area revolve around Governance, Environment, Health and Trade and Investment.  Environment (ex. water purification), health (ex. support in training physicians, export of devices and services to this sector) and trade / investment hold the most promise for London.  Canadian Universities that have entered into relationships with local stakeholders include Dalhousie University, University of British Columbia and University of Alberta.  Automotive parts manufacturing is becoming big here.  They hold a 30% cost advantage to their Chinese neighbours to the east.  This manufacturing cost advantage has not gone unnoticed.  HP just recently invested in this area to create the largest notebook manufacturing plant in the world.  Chongqing is growing very rapidly and we are arriving at an opportune time given that they are starting to build contacts and relationships with the outside world.  Until recently Chongqing was dedicated to producing goods and services for the domestic economy only. 

Late morning – we met with certain officials and were provided with draft MOUs for our consideration.  One of the MOUs pertains to establishing a relationship with the Chongqing Private Owned Business Association. 

 Afternoon – we attended a meeting that included officials from various Commerce/ Industry / Chamber Gov’t and private entities. This meeting mostly catered to the Chamber of Commerce / private Sector relationships. Each of the team London members (Mayor / CSTAR / Chamber / Trudell) put on a presentation to the group.  The following then put on a presentation:

The Vice Chair of the Chongqing Federation of Industry & Commerce – this entity is responsible for forging relationships between Chongqing companies and foreign companies. This entity falls under the jurisdiction of the municipality and in many ways acts as a Chamber of Commerce.  Their membership is made up of only medium to large sized companies.  They currently have about 69,000 members.  They appear to have a network of chambers (approx. 178) that work under their umbrella.  I spoke with their Vice Chair Li Zeng.  She wants to establish a link with our Chamber and would like to discuss this at greater length with our Chamber CEO when he visits in April. If possible they would like us to exchange ideas on how we can collaborate before the visit in April so that something concrete can be signed in April.

The Vice Chair of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (Chongqing Branch) – as the name of the entity suggests it is dedicated to promoting international trade.  She identified the need to increase trade between our two countries and, in particular, with Chongqing / Southwest China.  This entity reports to the Central Government.  It was established in 1983.  I am told this entity is one of the most important entities in terms of decision making authority in the trade and investment arena. I spoke with Vice Chair Luo Ying and she would like to establish a closer relationship with the London Chamber of Commerce.  Initially, the focus would be on enhancing the exchange of information and identifying areas for greater cooperation.  She would like to discuss more concrete plans for cooperation during the next few months with the expectation that this may culminate in a more detailed plan of action / cooperation during our CEOs visit in April.

The Vice Chair of the Chongqing Private Owned Business Association – this is a private organization.  This is the model that most closely resembles our model in that it is privately funded and not a government entity per se.  It apparently has a membership that comes close to 1,000,000 members. We asked twice to make sure this was right.  I don’t know whether there was confusion between the number 100,000 and 1,000,000 in English.  Suffice to say that the membership base is very large. It was established in 1983. The Board is comprised of 187 members broken down into 52 subgroups. They have a number of similar events to our Chamber such as an Outstanding Business Achievements Awards event, after business hours networking events, and training / education seminars.  I got the sense that they have a number of companies that are interested in exploring investment opportunities in London and region.  This is the entity that wants to enter into a MOU with our Chamber prior to our departure.  The Chair of this organization is Dr.  Jinshan Wang (Chair of the Jinshan Company).

Manager of the Chongqing Shuangfu Industrial Zone – this is a park having a size in excess of 1,000,000 square metres. It is the most important industrial zone in the area.  It is primarily focused on the automotive sector.  Some of these zones are self contained communities with colleges / universities / residences / industry all in one location.  This one zone has 8 colleges with 10,000 graduates.  Chongqing municipality has over 30 square kilometers of land available for construction.  Jinshan through its real estate arm is also in the process of building a high tech park with a size of 1,600,000 square metres.  This park will also be self contained.  The thinking is the academic / industry / residence needs to be all situated in one area to maximize efficiency and collaboration.

 This is an area experiencing tremendous growth.  Last year’s growth was 17%! They are also very entrepreneurial and focused in terms of what they want to achieve.  The opening of a high speed freight rail is a good example of how this area intends to create its own unique comparative advantage over its eastern Chinese neighbours.  The coastal areas have ready access by sea / ocean to various markets, but their access to Europe (i.e. the west) is ore constrained.  Furthermore having the Yangtze River gives Chongqing good access to the coast.

All this growth is resulting in significant societal pressures.  They do not yet have a strong middle class and healthcare is not readily accessible to all.  They recognize these are challenges they must address.  Lots of opportunity for Canada to have a positive impact in this area which in turn will help to attract companies from this area to establish their NAFTA base in Canada.

During my presentation I spoke to the Chamber’s plans to establish an Asian Business Opportunities Committee. This was very well received.  I also spoke to our initiative on the SCRCC front. This is also of interest and would provide us with more clout. 

 We all went out for dinner after the presentations (approx. 7 pm).  We arrived back at the hotel at about 10:30 pm. Long day…

 Hope all is well back home. This is a fascinating country.

Joaquim

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The London Chamber of Commerce’s visit to China – Day 1

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

The London Chamber of Commerce is currently participating in a trip to China in order to facilitate and create economic opportunities for its members and the broader business community in London.  This will be achieved by building upon the relationships established by CSTAR in China and creating new relationships with stakeholders in the private sector and with the London Chambers of Commerce.

The economic opportunities of primary interest include: the export of goods and services from London based companies to China; foreign direct investment from Chinese companies in the life sciences sector and other sectors where London offers a comparative advantage over competing jurisdictions; and the creation of strategic collaborations between private to private sector stakeholders and between private to public sector stakeholders.

Chamber president, Joaquim Balles arrived in China on November 21st 2011 and will be providing members with updates through this blog.

Board President, Joaquim Balles reports on first day of China Mission with City and CSTAR

China / Chongqing:

It was a long trip – over 24 hours before we got to our destination.  It’s a fascinating City with lots of development in progress.  We met with the Jinshan Group of Companies today and had an opportunity to meet certain officials from the hospital and discuss with Jinshan next steps with regard to several relationships.  As you know, the Chair of the Jinshan Group is the Chair of the Private Enterprise Association in Chongqing (aka Chamber). 

We were told tonight that CSTAR, the City and the Chamber are each expected to enter into an MOU.  The MOUs will be signed at City Hall with full press coverage.  This is moving at a rapid clip.  I will send the MOU tomorrow.  We have had some discussions on how we could structure an ongoing relationship.  Establishing an Asian Business Opportunities Committee would be very well received.  Lily Wang has offered to head this off for the Chamber with several other key Asian contacts in the City.  We would limit this to China / Chongqing for now.  In April they will want to have further discussions and updates on each Chamber’s progress along with meetings with private sector companies on both ends.  They are looking at setting up a similar committee on their end focused on Ontario, in particular Southwestern Ontario / London.

I expect to have the MOU out to you by sometime tomorrow (Monday).  We are meeting tomorrow with senior dignitaries from Government (Mayor and senior City Officials), leadership from the CCPIT (International Trade), and Board of Director members of the Private Enterprise Association along with a number of private sector business members.  We will each (CSTAR / Mayor / Chamber) be putting on a presentation.  The agenda for both Chongqing and Chengdu are filled with meetings with key stakeholders.  I will fill you in on the details later.

We were also told today that Jinshan was approached by the Mayor of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia after reading about Jinshan’s visit to London.  They recently traveled to Chongqing to visit with Jinshan.  They are apparently planning a full stakeholder visit for next May 2012. 

 Joaquim

Chongqing – a city of 32 million people

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