In 2012, Alberta established an Asia Advisory Council, whose mandate is to provide advice and make recommendations to the government on how to expand existing opportunities in Asia. In 2013, the government released Alberta’s International Strategy. The strategy argued that the province’s past economic successes had been tied to trade with the rest of Canada and the United States, but that in order to grow the province’s economy and to attract investment, Alberta needs to access new markets such as in Asia.
The government identified China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, and Singapore as priority markets for trade and investment, with China as the second-most important market after the U.S. The international strategy also goes beyond trade and investment and it recognizes the need to broaden the province’s reputation in agriculture, forestry, education, culture, and innovation. It further indicated the need to attract skilled international students and to adequately prepare Albertans to engage with the world. Finally, the strategy called for better coordination between government and private stakeholders.
Alberta has expanded its trade presence in Asia over the last few years. In 2014, the province opened up new trade offices in Singapore and New Delhi, India, as it looked to increase access to Southeast Asian and South Asian markets. In 2016, it reallocated resourced from its Beijing and Hong Kong offices to open an office in Guangzhou. Alberta's other offices in Asia include Shanghai (China), Taipei (Taiwan), Seoul (South Korea) and Tokyo (Japan). Alberta opened its Shanghai trade office as part of the New West Partnership agreement with British Columbia and Saskatchewan. The province also has a Senior Representative for the Asia Pacific Basin that acts as the chief advocate for Alberta’s economic interests in the region.
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Alberta ranks third amongst provinces with 31 Asian sister cities. It is the province with the oldest sister province relationship, which it struck with Gangwon, South Korea in 1974.
Alberta also has sister province relationships with Hokkaido prefecture in Japan and Heilongjiang province in China, both of which are also twinned with each other. In April 2017, the province signed a new twinning agreement with Guangdong (China), which is also twinned with B.C.
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Did You Know...
In 2015, the value of Alberta’s exports of canola seeds to China was over six times more than oil exports.