B.C. sets sights on becoming Asia’s financial hub in the West

VANCOUVER — In a bid to lure more Chinese investment into the province, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has billed Vancouver “the most Asian city outside of Asia.”

VANCOUVER — In a bid to lure more Chinese investment into the province, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has billed Vancouver “the most Asian city outside of Asia.”

Clark told an elite trade delegation Monday that the province is ramping up efforts to make trade deals with Asian nations, in part by charting a route to build the first international trading centre for the Chinese currency.

“Most of the world thinks of Asia still, or calls Asia the Far East. We call Asia the West,” she told about 80 senior business executives with the APEC China Business Council to Canada, which represents some of the largest private and state-owned enterprises in China.

In fact, Clark told the invite-only forum her staff reoriented a massive map outside her Vancouver office, and now one side shows western Canada, while the other side displays eastern Asia.

“Which is now, we believe, the centre of the world,” she said.

“The decision to build relationships was eminently obvious for us.”

The goal is to establish Vancouver as the first offshore settlement centre for the Chinese currency renminbi — also known as RMB or yuan — in North America, Clark said.

The government also wants to persuade five Asian head offices to set up in B.C. from any business sector by 2020, which would be aided by the currency arrangement.

Fifteen global investors are already doing big business in B.C., and the government will introduce legislation in the fall to help convince new, major investors from China to come on the board, Clark added.

She outlined a list of reasons why the room should view B.C. as a safe harbour for investment, explaining the government looked to Asia after its biggest trade partner in the U.S. reeled during the economic crisis of 2008.

She was asked later about what the government is doing to regulate or vet investors to ensure the money filtering into the province is legitimate.

“We don’t regulate the private sector from that perspective in British Columbia,” she told reporters, “but we regulate to ensure that we are looking after the environmental and social needs of the province.”

Clark said Vancouver is “actively lobbying” for the RMB centre and believes it makes the better argument over its Toronto competitor. Regardless of which city potentially wins its bid, Clark said the federal government will be instrumental by making the connection between the Bank of Canada and People’s Bank of China.

She said the government hopes to win a decision within a year and believes achieving the RMB settlement status would encourage international banks to locate in Vancouver.

A survey released last week by global banking firm HSBC found that even as the Chinese currency increasingly gains clout around the world, many businesses investing in the country have yet to embrace it.

“Strikingly, around two-thirds of businesses in mainland China and Hong Kong think that foreign firms that do business in RMB benefit financially and build stronger trading relationships,” wrote Simon Cooper, CEO of Global Commercial Banking with HSBC.

“Overseas companies do not all share this view, with awareness of the RMB’s potential advantages varying significantly around the world.”

Clark has led five international trade missions to Asia.

The government has built four trade and investment offices throughout China, has doubled their staff, and set up former cabinet minister Ben Stewart as a new, permanent special representative who is based in Beijing.

Last fall, the B.C. government also became the first foreign government to issue bonds into the Chinese RMB market, issuing a one-year-term bond that raised about $428 million Canadian.

About one-quarter of the province’s population is of Asian descent.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Jayden Grubbe is one of three Rebels on the NHL Central Scouting players to watch list for the 2021 NHL Draft. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Rebels seek consistency ahead of matchup with Hitmen

The Red Deer Rebels had to deal with a pang of regret… Continue reading

Quinn Mason died from an opioid overdose at the age of 23 in June 2020. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta mother whose son died from overdose advocates for ‘change’

It’s been about nine months since her son died from an overdose,… Continue reading

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday that the province was ready to move forward with Phase 2A and B in the coming weeks. (Photo by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)
Majority of Albertans to receive first shot before June 30: Shandro

Shandro says all Albertans should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine by June 30

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw acknowledged that Friday would be one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three more Red Deer COVID-19 deaths, 331 active cases in Alberta

Red Deer is down to 362 active cases of the virus

Alberta’s Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer spoke on Thursday by webinar to Red Deer Chamber of Commerce members. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).
Alberta’s economic diversification is already underway, says Jobs Minister

From the geothermal to the TV industry, new jobs will be created, said Doug Schweitzer

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Phil Noble, Pool via AP)
Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Philadelphia Flyers' Sean Couturier (14) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen reacts to a goal by Winnipeg Jets' Paul Stastny, left, during first-period NHL hockey action in Montreal on Thursday, March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Pierre-Luc Dubois scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets edge Montreal Canadiens 4-3

Pierre-Luc Dubois scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets edge Montreal Canadiens 4-3

Toronto Raptors guard Terence Davis (0) shoots after grabbing a rebound against Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Boston. At right is Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Tatum scores 27, Celtics outlast depleted Raptors 132-125

Tatum scores 27, Celtics outlast depleted Raptors 132-125

International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel answers a question during a news conference addressing hockey issues at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. The International Ice Hockey Federation has confirmed the postponement of the women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May 6-16. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Mark Humphrey
IIHF postpones women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May

IIHF postpones women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May

Quebec Premier François Legault chairs a virtual news conference Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. The premiers from the left are: John Horgan, B.C.; Jason Kenney, Alberta; Scott Moe, Saskatchewan; Legault, Quebec; Brian Pallister, Manitoba; Doug Ford, Ontario; and Blaine Higgs, New Brunswick. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

Most Read