Chinese and other Asian governments
seek Canadian partnerships
in sustainable tech
Demand is growing fast for clean energy and waste management solutions
MARCH 3, 2016
VANCOUVER -- Asia’s increasing push toward green technology in the face of rising environmental challenges has made Vancouver’s annual Globe conference a prime target for some markets to showcase their progress and draw investment.
This year’s Globe event, which took place this week at the Vancouver Convention Centre, saw several Asian government agencies step up their efforts to attract potential Canadian partnerships in sustainable technology — all positioning themselves as B.C.’s best opportunity to launch into Asia’s rapidly growing demand for things like clean energy and waste management solutions.
Ajarin Pattanapanchai, deputy secretary general for Thailand’s Board of Investment, said she has seen increased B.C. investor attention on Asia’s renewable sector in recent years, but by-and-large Canadian interest in the region remains limited — something she aims to change.
“This is why we come back to Canada — we’ve also made a trip to Montreal — to promote investment in Thailand,” said Pattanapanchai, who led a trade delegation to Globe this year.
“Canadian companies tend to be conservative when approaching new markets, but the opportunity is there. We have the manufacturing capacity. The market is there. We have world-class infrastructure and high standards of environmental protection, the cost is still very affordable. So to make your company grow in Asia, I think you have to be in Asia.”
One of the biggest presences at this year’s conference was Taiwan, which brought 11 vendors to Vancouver in a joint effort with the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei.
R.C. Wu, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada, said the vendors — ranging from solar panel makers to green building material manufacturers — were chosen not only to showcase Taiwan’s sustainable technology, but also to present areas where companies can attract Canadian partnerships.
“We know Canada is also leading the world in terms of its innovation,” Wu said at the opening of Taiwan’s Globe pavilion, which rivalled the size of the booths from several Canadian provinces. “That’s why our Ministry of Foreign Affairs is so supportive of this exhibition this time, so as to provide the opportunity for Taiwan’s green energy enterprises to interact with their counterparts in Canada ... even with the potential of Taiwanese companies setting up plants in Canada, and vice versa.”
Wu also touted Taiwan’s suitability as a base for Canadian businesses to access Asian markets like Mainland China and Southeast Asia, adding its highly advanced green technology credentials should provide a very attractive opportunity for environmentally-conscious investors from B.C.
“The scarcity of land makes Taiwan more concerned about environmental protection,” he said. “Globe 2016 is a demonstration of the so-called green energy enterprises and technology, and clearly, this is where Taiwan has much to put forward.”
For Thailand representative Pattanapanchai, Vancouver’s large Chinese-Canadian population makes the city an ideal place for Bangkok to seek North American business, since China already has a deep trade relationship with Thailand. She noted her group is meeting with both the City of Richmond, as well as a couple of Chinese-Canadian business officials who have already visited Thailand and expressed interest in setting up shop there.
Pattanapanchai added Thailand has implemented some aggressive tax incentives to attract foreign investment in areas like aerospace, automotive, electronics and medical care — including an eight-year tax holiday for investors fitting certain requirements. She added that Canada’s waste management technology can be especially successful in Thailand, where the majority of the waste is still being landfilled.
The challenge, Pattanapanchai said, is for Canadians to think of Thailand as more than just a tourism destination.
“Together, (Southeast Asia) represents not only one of the biggest, but one of the fastest-growing economies in the world,” she said. “… They may know about China, but Southeast Asia is not in their minds when it comes to business. So we have to explain that our economy is strong, and our infrastructure, human resources and technology are all very competitive.”