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Sunday, October 30, 2005 

Globe and Mail: China Rising - "Are We Missing the Boat?"

The Globe and Mail did it again - a fat issue on China Rising.

This year's reports are written from a Canadian-China trade angle as "Ottawa is on a mission to have every company in Canada devise a "China strategy" that will focus even small firms on developing a competitive edge."

The mission is a strategic attempt to prevent the Canadian economy from being overly dependent on natural resources and the U.S. market.

In one of the unlinkable articles, G&M reports that:

"This year alone, federal ministers have visited China 16 times, some of them going more than once. And that's just the beginning of the traffic...Never has Canada tried so hard to drum up trade with an overseas partner with so little to show for it."

The paper questions why, about a year after its first extensive coverage on China's emergence, Canadians are "on the slow boat to China."

For sure, there are Canadian businesses that have been successful in doing business with China, as the G&M special coverage reports. However, most companies are very conservative. Also:
"Generally, Canadian companies understand their markets well and are responsive to changing demand. But because of their small size, they often can't afford to undertake the work required to develop markets or find new suppliers in China," Erik Nilsson of Bank of Nova Scotia.

"As a result, it seems to me that developing China strategies may be a great idea from Ottawa's perspective. But the reality on the ground is, these companies are often running as fast as they can."

I remember one senior policymaker once remarked that Canadians don't know too much about China. That's why they have great hestitations going there in the first place. (There's some truth in that. Just a while ago, a French-Canadian youth asked me if China was once a French colony!)

But from what I understand, it's not that people don't know about China. They are just not interested.

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