By Lethbridge Herald on June 13, 2018.
Chinese Consul General Lu Xu was in Lethbridge County Wednesday to view the region, talk a little business and continue working toward warmer trade ties between her country and Western Canada.
Mme. Lu and Reeve Lorne Hickey exchanged symbolic gifts at the Lethbridge County office and spoke to the media about the burgeoning friendship between China and the Lethbridge region. Lu used China’s panda politics to the utmost by presenting Hickey with an ornate piece of desk art bearing the likeness of the famous animal.
In return, Hickey presented the Consul General with a fragile glass wheat stem sculpture, illustrating the many ways the Canadian and Chinese relationship is a delicate one which needs to be carefully managed to be sustained.
Hickey further drove home that point in his comments to reporters after the exchange of gifts.
“It’s a relationship we need to build further,” said Hickey. “We do export to China, and we also import (from China). But we have the ability to export a lot more finished products.”
Hickey expressed his hope by continuing to foster good ties with China, Lethbridge County would be in a position to gain valuable access for locally produced, finished goods into China’s notoriously difficult to penetrate, but increasingly lucrative, domestic consumer market.
“I believe we have all the resources here to produce finished products, and I believe China is now in the position to accept high-quality, finished products,” said Hickey.
For her part, Mme Lu expressed warm regard for Lethbridge County and southern Alberta, and her appreciation for the highly advanced agriculture sector that exists here. She also said her visit had broadened her perspective on what Lethbridge County and southern Alberta have to offer.
“Agricultural products should be number one, but this morning I visited the tecconnect Centre and also some plastic and whiskey factories — it really broadened my vision of Lethbridge,” she said. “We have a lot of room to develop our relationship, both in a traditional way and in an innovative way.”
Lu also took the opportunity to express her country’s desire to have a free-trade agreement with Canada signed as soon as possible, especially given the trade difficulties and trade barriers going up all over the world at the moment.
“From the Chinese point of view, we think free trade is really necessary both for China and Canada, and especially at this critical moment,” she said. “We are strong supporters for free-trade talk between countries, and I think it is beneficial to both of our peoples, and also the world. Fortunately, we are very happy to see we share the same views (with Canadians) over free trade and anti-protectionism in the international arena.
“I am looking forward to working with the Alberta government,” she concluded, “and also governments from other jurisdictions, to push forward or promote the free-trade talks between our two countries. We are looking forward to a good result coming from the federal level.”
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