Mr. Speaker, in January the Premier and I led a second trade mission of NWT business representatives and government officials to China and Japan. Our delegation included NWT tour operators, partners in our fur and fashion industries, and a member of our territory’s diamond manufacturing sector Ms. Verda Law, of Yellowknife Tours, Mr. Ragnar Wesstrom of Enodah Wilderness Adventures, Mr. Hideo Nagatani from Aurora Village, Mr. Andrew Stanley, a trapper from Hay River, Mr. Fernando Alvarez of Jacques Cartier Clothing and Mr. Dylan Dix of Crossworks Manufacturing.
Collectively we offered a significant, multi-sector mission highlighting the opportunities that exist within our territory’s key sectors. In the interest of NWT businesses, our objective was, in part, to leverage a greater share of the immense and growing market in Asia for luxury products and travel vacations.
To that end, we showcased our fur and diamonds in foremost international fashion venues like the 41st Annual Fur and Leather Show in Beijing and the International Jewellery Fair in Tokyo.
Due to its high quality, limited supply, and the sustainable and humane manner in which it is harvested, our Genuine Mackenzie Valley Furs are being increasingly sought by socially and fashion conscious consumers in Asia.
Almost immediately following our meetings with fur buyers at the Beijing Fur and Leather show, we were advised that five new clients had registered to buy our wild fur at the upcoming March sale in Helsinki.
Meanwhile, our endorsement of a proposed MOU between the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the Fur Institute of Canada has advanced that initiative to a point where it may be signed in the next three weeks. This is a big step – not only for the spirit of cooperation that it represents – but also for the fundamental role that it will play in protecting our collective interests in the fur industry.
Our presentations and meetings on tourism netted similar immediate results. Two new and major tour operators have come forward since our mission with plans to package and sell the NWT product in China. With upwards of 100 thousand Chinese travelling annually, it represents an extraordinary potential return on our investment – and the possibility of even greater growth in our territory’s Aurora industry – already reaching record performance measures.
The Premier and I also met with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency to provide an update on the creation of the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Link and growth of the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility. The establishment of a fixed fibre optic link opens the door for a broad range of satellite-related activities for investors interested in projects relating to data harvesting. We believe the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency could be a strong partner with the NWT and Canada with a joint venture similar to those already established with other international partners.
Mr. Speaker, beyond our work to stimulate interest, investment and economic growth for NWT businesses, our second mission to China has served to add prestige and credibility to our relationships with the governments that guide and govern this trade. The Canadian Ambassador to China, Mr. Guy Saint-Jacques, communicated to us and to Chinese government officials during our meetings, the significance of the GNWT’s investment in building relations through this return mission to China. Our trip served also to open doors with investors interested in learning more about the exciting opportunities that exist in our territory. I would like to express my appreciation to both Ambassador Saint-Jacques and to Mr. Mackenzie Clugston, Canada’s Ambassador to Japan. The success of our trade mission would not have been possible without the outstanding support given by both of the Ambassadors, and their staff.
Opportunities for investment are being increasingly sought and recognized by the Chinese in particular. These investments are not necessarily limited to non‑renewable resources. Since our mission, the Canadian Consulate in Shanghai has received an inquiry from a company currently exporting Canadian fresh water fish to China and looking for additional sources of high-quality products.
Mr. Speaker, we are acting on the momentum established by this mission and responding to immediate inquiries. I look forward to sharing more detailed information with Members of this House in person and in subsequent meetings and briefings.
I can assure Members that we will continue to encourage and nurture a strong network of relationships and investments in China and Japan, and in other international markets. Our growing political and reciprocal relationship with these nations is one that articulates the full value of the potential that exists for our Territory and the returns that can be realized from investors, corporations and even nations that are interested in partnering and investing in the North.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.