(Check against delivery)
Good evening everyone and thank you all for attending. I would like to formally welcome his Excellency, Luo Zhaohui, Ambassador of China to Canada, his wife and Counsellor of the Embassy Jiang Yili and his officials to the Northwest Territories. This is the first time a Chinese Ambassador to Canada has come to the NWT and we are very pleased you decided to come and see us. I hope that we will be as gracious a host during your time here as your government has been when I have traveled to China. We strongly believe in the relationship between our two peoples and look forward to building on our partnership in the coming months and years.
Looking around the room, I see many familiar faces: business owners, fellow politicians from all levels of government, members of our growing tourism and resource sectors. It’s these people, dedicated to the North and its success that play an integral role in our government’s goal of a prosperous and vibrant Northwest Territories.
Since my first visit to China as Premier in 2013, I have become increasingly aware of the things we Northerners have in common with the people of China: we share a belief in practicality and common sense, we are not afraid of hard work, and we all very much understand how important it is to respect one another. It reminds me of the drive and desire of many of the people in this room who believe in what the Northwest Territories has to offer – not just to our domestic markets, but to the international markets, like China.
Despite the ocean that separates us, the mutually beneficial relationship between the Northwest Territories and China brings us closer together. Over 7,000 Chinese visitors have experienced the authenticity of the Northwest Territories in the last year alone. Business owners, accepted through our government’s express entry program, now operate a restaurant in Inuvik and a dry cleaning service in Yellowknife, among others, and there are currently six potential applicants from China that have been invited to apply to the Northwest Territories Nominee Program under the business category.
And not to forget the already established and successful Chinese business owners here in the Northwest Territories, who contribute in all sectors of our economy.
China’s fur garment industry continues to be the main importer of high-quality furs produced in the Northwest Territories and all three diamond producers, Dominion Diamonds, Rio Tinto and De Beers, sell diamonds to China. With continued discussion and hard work, there exists the potential for a bright future where Chinese companies invest in the Northwest Territories abundant natural resources and contribute to our vision of a prosperous and sustainable North.
This goal can’t be achieved without partnerships with other governments like the one we have forged. I look forward to working with the Chinese government as we move forward. Thank you.