Building bridges and encouraging international collaboration between businesses in P.E.I. and China was the focus of a number of presentations made here on Sunday.
The Chinese Business Development Association (CBDA) held its first annual meeting at the Howard Johnson Dutch Inn in Cornwall.
The group, which consists of 40 members Island-wide, provided an overview of what it accomplished during its first year of existence, which mainly centered on connecting P.E.I. businesses with Chinese investors.
“We successfully created public awareness by hosting big events like the Chinese New Year’s Gala and an international investment forum, which was an initiative to reach out to local businesses,” said Chunying Li, executive director for the CBDA. “Our focus is really the information exchange, which we feel is key.”
Li said the group has confirmed a need to showcase how welcoming P.E.I. is in order to attract and retain international talent.
“We can offer that information from our own experiences and networking, we can also provide a place for entrepreneurs to inspire each other and see where the opportunities are,” she said.
One of the group’s big endeavors this year will be a trade trip allowing Island businesses and producers to connect with Chinese processors and investors in Changchun, Wuxi and Taiwan this spring.
That trip is scheduled for April 28 to May 9.
Max Wang, president of the International Moonlight Foundation, was one of several speakers at Sunday’s meeting.
Wang described a number of initiatives coordinated by the foundation, which is best-known by Islanders for purchasing Buffaloland Park.
Wang said the group has put extensive repairs into and also created a new herd management system.
“It’s not a promise, but we’re trying to bring elementary school kids in and make it an educational environment about animal behaviours,” he said. “Another goal is to make the park a site for the Island, where people can come to P.E.I. and mark it down on their calendar.
“This is one of our wishes I hope we someday achieve.”
The foundation has also been involved in humanitarian and environmental efforts, including giving away thousands of pairs of mittens and planting more than 10,000 trees on P.E.I.
Grain Essence Garden Inc., which runs under the foundation, has also helped facilitate international communication between Island producers and Chinese processors and retailers
Last year, the group helped bring about 16 members of P.E.I.’s agriculture industry to Taiwan to meet with processors and retailers.
“Mainly to know there is a different type of market and how to develop that market,” said Wang, noting that the group also brought a group of Taiwanese processors to P.E.I. last September. “We really hope one day to have the food processing here, now we can ship grains out but we hope to process here and eventually have even more possibilities and profit.”
Li said the CBDA is also planning to hold another international investment forum in P.E.I. this year.
She said the exact date and details will be released closer to the summer.
“It will depend on the feedback and response from the Chinese trip,” she said.