Experts and students discuss trade opportunities in Asia Pacific region

June 27, 2018
MBA student Angela Stone, Mexican Consul-General Bernice Diaz, Dean William Holmes, MBA student Nathan Obeid, Renee Umezuki of Global Affairs Canada and associate faculty member Dr. Jeff Kucharski

Trade in the Asia Pacific region has long been a focus for business and government in Western Canada, but what’s beyond the buzz?

Members of the Victoria branch of the Canadian International Council joined students and faculty from the School of Business to examine the reality, challenges and opportunities for trade and business in the region during a packed event at Hatley Castle Tuesday, June 27. 

Speakers with wide-ranging expertise on the region shared insights and information. Associate faculty member and distinguished fellow of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada Hugh Stephens moderated the discussion.

Consul-General of Mexico in Vancouver Bernice Diaz presented on the Pacific Alliance, a free trade organization formed by Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru. Canada was recently invited to become an associated state with the alliance, which would facilitate trade and cooperation between Canada and the member countries.

Renee Umezuki, deputy director at the Pacific regional office of Global Affairs Canada, provided an overview of the various trade agreements Canada holds in the Asia Pacific sphere and how Global Affairs can help Canadian businesses succeed in these markets.

Students and faculty from the Master of Business Administration in Executive Management also presented on a March 2018 trip to China for students in the program’s International Business—Asia Pacific Trade and Investment specialization.

Students Angela Stone and Nathan Obeid and associate faculty member Dr. Jeff Kucharski gave their impressions on business in Hong Kong, Shenzen and Taiwan.

Stone said the nature of business in China is rapidly evolving, with a focus on quality, environmental stewardship and manufacturing for the needs of the local market as well as for international export.

“The workforce is shifting as well. Younger workers are interested in quality of life and working fewer hours,” she said. “All of this is having an effect on Chinese firms, with many now exporting their manufacturing to other countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, as North America did with China.”

Obeid said he recommends businesses exploring China as a market start in one city or province. A single city in China can have a market similar in size to Canada.

“China is a competitive market. It’s not enough to visit once or twice a year. You have to be present and be willing to put in the time and build relationships,” he said.