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Gala Luncheon - Canada-China Business Council: Speech

"It is clear to me that our strong and mutually beneficial Alberta-China relationship is more important than ever."

April 21: Canada China Business Council Luncheon

Premier Rachel Notley speaks at the Canada China Business Council Luncheon in Beijing, China on April 21, 2017.

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Ladies and gentlemen, friends,

…it is a great delight to be here in Beijing,

…and to join you at this impressive Gala Luncheon.

I extend my profound appreciation to our host, the Canada-China Business Council.

I am grateful for your support today, and for our long and growing partnership on so many fronts.

There are many more people whom I would like to acknowledge.

But that would take up my allotted time.

So let me say to all Albertans who are present in connection to my visit, I thank you for being here, …and for contributing so importantly to Alberta—China relations.

I am joined by a colleague of mine, someone who has been working hard at building stronger relations between Alberta and China.

Minister Bilous is Alberta’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade, and an outstanding member of my Cabinet.

He is with us today, on his third visit to China in the past 13 months.  

Partnerships and Benefits

Last November, Deron’s mission included almost 90 companies and organizations.

That was the largest in Alberta’s history, to anywhere in the world.

Our companies met with more than 1,200 Chinese counterparts in three regions. Both Alberta and China are still reaping the benefits.

The efforts of Minister Bilous, and those of our companies, are already creating new jobs at home.

It is clear to me that our strong and mutually beneficial Alberta-China relationship is more important than ever.

We are engaging in more fields. We have more people involved on both sides of the Pacific.

And we have unprecedented potential.

China is Alberta’s top export market after the United States. And you know—and I know— that our relationship can and should be so much more than it is today.

Realising that goal is our collective task.

Two-thirds of all Chinese corporate investment in Canada found its home in Alberta. And new Chinese investors in diverse sectors are looking closely at building on that foundation.

They see the economic forecasts that show, this year, Alberta once again will lead economic growth among all Canadian provinces.

They are looking at Alberta’s:

  • lowest overall taxes in Canada,
  • our open business environment,
  • our strong skills base, and
  • our logistical strengths in road, rail and air transportation for people and goods.

It is no accident that Air China’s only dedicated cargo route between Mainland China and Canada is to Edmonton.

That cargo route links China to:

Alberta’s natural resources,

  • our strong education and health care systems, 
  • our affordable cities,
  • our high commitment to cultural diversity, and
  • our stable and predictable system of government.

Chinese investors are increasingly aware that Alberta is one of the most attractive centers in North America for Chinese enterprises.

I am here in Beijing to send a clear message to you, and to everyone I meet during my visit…that job-creating Chinese investment is welcome in Alberta.

It is a message that our government and Alberta economic development agencies also will carry to Chinese investors…

…and to your international peers at the World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment next month in Shanghai.

Tourism Potential

A growing area for investment in Alberta is tourism.

Alberta is the heart of the west—and its culture and landscapes offer excitingly different cultural and visitor experiences.

And we all know that Chinese investors and companies—as well as students and citizens—are enthusiastic tourists.

Chinese students, companies and investors are also many of the same people who visit Alberta as tourists each year.

I hope everyone here plans to take advantage of the new Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing to Calgary.

We Albertans are proud of the fact that—when travelers think of Canada—they often think of Alberta’s iconic tourism centers and attractions.

The New York Times, Lonely Planet, Conde Nast and Vogue all singled out Canada as a leading tourism destination of the year for 2017.

And—while our country has many great places to visit in Canada—we think it is hard to beat what Alberta has to offer.

Indeed, National Geographic Traveler named Banff National Park as a “Best of the World” destination.

Lonely Planet singled out the Canadian Rockies, and also specifically cited the Calgary Stampede and Drumheller.

And in 2018, Calgary’s world class zoo will welcome the arrival for a five year period of a family of pandas loaned to Canada by China.  

Er Shun [ar shiun] and Da Mao [Dah Mau],—and their adorable two cubs born in Toronto—will surely receive a warm Alberta welcome. And so will visitors from China.

There is clearly no better time to come to Alberta.

Tourism—like trade—also works both ways.

Albertans are using the new air links to Beijing to study and do business in China.

They come here for the sheer enjoyment of:

  • embracing 5,000 years of Chinese history and culture,
  • enjoying the diversity and creativity of China’s cuisine, and
  • exploring China’s diverse regions.

Economic Potential

Today, while we celebrate the past and present, we also look forward to the potential of our shared future.

When we look to China, Alberta sees the world’s second largest economy that is growing by more than six per cent.

That’s over a quarter of all the economic growth in the world this year.

We also see the potential for partnerships in innovation, with:

  • the world’s biggest e-commerce platforms,
  • galloping advances in home grown innovation,
  • Improving Intellectual Property laws and protections, and
  • the rise of China’s private sector.

We see the potential for Alberta’s agriculture in the premium that Chinese consumers place on safe, quality products, especially food.

We also see the potential in China’s desire for:

  • quality education and health care, and
  • the huge growth in outbound tourism, including to Canada and Alberta.

And we appreciate and share China’s commitment to providing its people with cleaner air, water and soil—and action on climate change.

Alberta recognizes the partnership potential in:

  • the rapid rise of China’s middle class,
  • the spectacular growth of its cities,
  • its impressive infrastructure, and
  • its tech savvy population.

China’s dynamism and transformation as an economy and a society has some remarkable parallels with Alberta.

Alberta also is in the midst of one of the greatest transformations in our own history.

We are modernizing. We are innovating.
We are diversifying…and globalizing.

Albertans have always been adaptable and resilient. Now, we are reinventing ourselves by leveraging our strong economic fundamentals.

We are drawing on our compelling human capital:

  • the youngest population in Canada,
  • the best educated, and
  • growing at a faster rate than the provincial average in Canada.

And Albertans are excitingly diverse. One in five of us was born outside of Canada.

That mosaic of races, cultures and languages is a source of cultural richness…and is a strong advantage in a global market place.

And Albertans of Chinese heritage are helping to broaden Alberta’s relationship with China.


We are also pursuing diversity in our economy, by building on our traditional strengths,
and creating new ones.

Our energy sector will always be a pillar industry and a source of Alberta pride. After all, we have the third largest oil reserves in the world, and some of the largest gas formations.

Production continues to grow, with 600,000 barrels coming on line over the next two years.

Now, our energy industry is on a sure path to be the most technologically advanced, most efficient and environmentally responsible on the planet.

That is essential as Alberta energy begins to connect globally, especially with Asia.

My government is working closely with the Government of Canada to see new pipelines built to tidewater.

An important first step was approval of the Trans Mountain line and Line 3 late last year that:

  • are helping to recharge investment in our oil and gas sector, and
  • are pivotal to our world-class energy producers selling the resource at world-class prices.

Chinese enterprises are a big part of that process.

Petrochina…CNOOC…SINOPEC…Sinoenergy and many more Chinese energy leaders are at home in Alberta.

We are working closely with them so they will grow their investments:

  • to meet their own business goals, and
  • to create jobs and prosperity for Albertans.

We are determined to see our energy exports to Asia grow exponentially in the medium term…

…which will help Asian consumers diversify their supply and increase their energy security.

And that will help reduce dependence on coal and improve the environment.

Energy is a hi-tech business. Whether it is exploration, or production, Alberta and Chinese companies can build mutually beneficial and profitable partnerships.

Alberta's Other Economic Strengths

Of course, Alberta is about much more than tourism and energy.

Most of you already know that Alberta has a world-class agri-food sector that is ideally positioned to serve Chinese consumers.

The InterContinental Hotel used Alberta food products in today’s luncheon…and wasn’t that delicious? 

Thank you to the hotel for agreeing to use Alberta food products in today’s menu—and thank you to the Alberta companies, who provided it.

The beef came from ZRHL Group, an importer of Wild Rose Trading Ltd.

The flaxseed oil came from All Impact Foods Ltd., and the canola oil from Sunora Foods.

And McKenzie’s creamed honey was provided by Canada Grand Enterprises Inc.

This hotel is hosting a food promotion soon that will give you another chance to enjoy Alberta food products.

Speaking of growing things…forestry and higher learning also are Alberta strengths.

Our forestry products are among the highest quality in Canada, and are making their way to more Chinese end users.

Alberta and China both benefit from many agreements on forestry products.

One example is the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding between Alberta Innovates—one of Canada’s leading technology institutes—and Dehua Tubao—China’s largest engineered wood products manufacturers…

…to strengthen their partnership in bringing oriented strand board—or OSB—products into China.

Our partnership in this and all areas is made stronger by exceptional education. The Alberta government supports 27 post-secondary education institutions that rank with the finest anywhere.

It is no surprise that Alberta is home to more than 9,000 Chinese students a year, at all levels of learning.

And I note that both the University of Alberta and University of Calgary are entering into or renewing agreements during this visit.

And so are the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

A growing area for partnership advanced technology.

Advanced technology is Alberta’s third-largest value-added industry, with applications in:

  • clean energy,
  • information and telecommunications, and
  • life sciences and nanotechnology.

Thousands of high tech companies and innovation leaders are helping this sector to grow rapidly.

Already, Alberta is a leader in many environmental products and services, with more than 1,300 companies generating $3 billion in revenue.

Our world-leading environmental sector is on
a high-growth trajectory.

Albertans know a strong economy and clean environment must go hand in hand.

That’s why we launched one of the boldest climate leadership plans in North America.

We are phasing out pollution from coal-generated electricity by 2030. By then, we will generate 30 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources.

We are cutting emissions through:

  • oil and gas sector targets,
  • an economy-wide price on carbon, and
  • the support of a new agency called Energy Efficiency Alberta.

Every last bit of money collected through this plan is being reinvested back into Alberta’s economy, to help create jobs and make life better for families, specifically:

  • to save energy and reduce energy bills for families, and
  • to invest in green energy, clean technology and innovation to diversify our economy.

Looking Ahead

So what does all this mean for Alberta’s present and future relations with China?

In my meetings and engagements over the last few days—I am deeply struck by China’s own determination to reinvent itself…

…while at the same time embracing its rich heritage and its own natural advantages.

The economic paths that Alberta and China are following are often moving in the same direction, and frequently intersecting.

This was very clear during yesterday’s ceremony at the Canadian Embassy where Chinese and Alberta:

  • enterprises,
  • educational institutions, and
  • public sector bodies,

…celebrated past achievements and marked new milestones.

Some signed new agreements and contracts.

Others deepened those already in place.

I am looking forward to an important signing ceremony in Guangzhou  
next week.

It is gratifying to see deeper and new partnerships in our traditional areas of forestry, agriculture, and energy and education.

And it is especially exciting to see the number of collaborations in entirely new areas.

During my visit, we are seeing innovative agreements signed or advancing in:

  • film, culture and broadcasting;
  • tourism marketing;
  • technical skills development for the new green economy;
  • health sector training, and
  • youth fitness and winter sports.

On that last point—winter sports—I am proud to announce that Alberta will be making a financial contribution to a new winter sports collaboration.

That collaboration is a new Canada/Alberta market development initiative on winter sports business opportunities…including opportunities in China.

And in the coming  weeks—as a direct outcome of Minister Bilous’ visit to China last November…

…an Edmonton company called Inspire Sports will enter its first agreement in southern China. 

They are bringing an Alberta sports training curriculum and philosophy to China’s youth.

I also am excited by agreements in Alberta-based investment platforms for start-ups…

…and agreements to collaborate in innovation, in:

  • artificial intelligence,
  • big Data, and
  • renewable energy.

And next month, Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer BYD will officially deliver its first electric buses to St. Albert…which is just outside our capital city of Edmonton.

This delivery shows China’s growth in green technology…and the commitment of Alberta communities to reduce greenhouse gases.

My government is pleased to support the transition from carbon with infrastructure grants and other supports.

And we welcome collaboration on energy and the environment that goes well beyond electric vehicles.

After a China-Alberta Roundtable yesterday on Energy and Climate Change…I signed a Memorandum of Understanding on energy and climate change policy and research.

Under that MOU, Alberta will collaborate with China’s National Development and Reform Commission’s Energy Research Institute, or ERI.

The agreement recognizes our shared commitment:

  • to growing and sustaining our oil, gas and petrochemical sectors, and
  • to bold actions to mitigate carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases.

The agreement also reflects the powerful reality that Alberta and China, as major energy jurisdictions…can learn from one another and help each other to meet the goals we set for ourselves.

And, it embraces some fundamental truths.

Climate change is real.

The challenges have no boundaries.

And we must pool our resources, and share our knowledge and experience as befits responsible global citizens.


Along with new areas of common interest, deepening partnerships and win-win results, there are understandably also some differences between our approaches.

We all appreciate that Canada and China have different political systems, histories, cultures, and language.

For westerners, China’s business environment can be challenging to navigate. It is common to confront formidable market entry barriers.

In building long-term international business partnerships, Canadian and Chinese companies benefit from more transparency and predictability.

This is especially the case for small and medium enterprises that are the backbone of our economy.

China is not a market for the faint of heart.

But we are committed to helping our companies to succeed.

That is why Alberta last year opened an office in Guangzhou, our third in mainland China.

And back home, Minister Bilous launched a new Alberta Exporter support program to share international business development costs, and to attract more buyers to Alberta.

Alberta therefore commends the Government of Canada’s increased institutional engagement with China.

We especially welcome the new Annual Dialogue between Canada’s Prime Minister and China’s Premier.

And stronger government-to-government dialogues on:

  • innovation,
  • health,
  • climate change and environment,
  • national security and the rule of law;
  • the economy and finance…

…which will help to bridge our differences and identify common interests and actions.

Alberta pledges to support the Government of Canada to take maximum advantage of these mechanisms…

…and we will contribute directly when called upon, especially in our many areas of provincial jurisdiction.

I have had excellent discussions with Ambassador John McCallum and welcome his strong pledge to support Alberta-China relations.

He has already done so, even in his brief tenure.

The Ambassador and I spoke constructively and openly about issues that Albertans care about. This includes Canada’s important engagement with China on human rights issues.

And we both agreed that the people-to-people dimensions of Canada-China relations matter.

Whether through tourism and education,
…or via increased trade and investment…

…or through collaboration in research or in the sharing of best practices in policy and governance…

…our human contact and relationship experience, and the knowledge and understanding they foster, builds greater awareness, understanding and trust.

There are no more compelling avenues to bridge our differences in perspectives. And we all have a role to play in doing so.


Ladies and Gentleman, friends from Canada and China, this is an exciting time of potential.

I welcome our open dialogue.

I welcome our shared commitment to building an even stronger partnership between Alberta and China.

And, I thank you for joining me and my delegation today. We have much to do together—more than ever before.

It won’t surprise you that—back home—the test of our government’s every decision is: does this make Albertans’ lives better?

I believe that our partnership will make life better for the people of China, of Canada, and of Alberta.

Thank you. 

Government of Alberta