Back left: Joe Greenholtz, Dr. Julian Dierkes, Russell Mark, Angela Hollinger, Bill McMichael, Don Davies M.P., Neil Moo
Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia
BC’s economic outlook and the future of BC-Japan trade.
By Neil Moody
On February 8, the Canada-Japan Society of BC (CJSBC) and the Japan Co-op Program, co-hosted a panel discussion on BC’s economic outlook and the future of BC-Japan trade.
Moderated by Dr. Julian Dierkes, UBC Associate Professor and Keidanren Chair in Japanese Research, Institute of Asian Research Director, Centre for Japanese Research, the well-attended luncheon featured guest speakers M.P. Mr. Don Davies, Vice-Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade and Official Opposition Critic for International Trade (2012) and Mr. Bruce Ralston, MLA for Surrey – Whalley, British Columbia, who serves as Opposition Critic for Finance and Public Accounts. Japan’s recently appointed Consul General of Japan, Mr. Seiji Okada, began the discussions for the 45 guests in attendance that highlighted the importance of a Canada-Japan EPA.
MP Don Davies, who recently traveled to Japan with the International Trade Committee, confirmed the agreement of support by the opposition parties for a free trade agreement (EPA) with the Asian economic giant. He added that while Japan and Canada acknowledge similar sensitivities on agriculture, an EPA would bring reductions in tariffs and regulatory requirements enhancing business opportunities for Canadian companies.
Citing some of the missteps that have occurred in the bilateral relationship including the closure of Canadian consulates in Japan and the relocation to the Philippines of Canadian Visa processing services, Mr. Davies stated his party is in the process of making specific recommendations in a report to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, that calls for the re-opening of the consulates in Osaka and an increased Canadian trade commissioner presence for Japan.
MLA Bruce Ralston spoke on the importance of the Canada-Japan relationship for British Columbia and added that while current government priority favors other Asian regions such as China and India, with Japan in the shadow, it is imperative that the focus should change to help foster a stronger economic relationship with Japan, the world’s third largest economy.
He added that his party is supportive of the LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) sector’s development to help meet Japan’s new energy demand and that a revitalized tourism sector that would work closely with airlines and travel agencies stem the decline of Japanese tourists to Canada.
For more information on the EPA negotiations with Japan, visit www.cccj.or.jp.