In 2007, British Columbia became the first province to release an Asia Strategy. The Asia Pacific Initiative highlighted the importance of Asia for the future of the province and the need to build on its strong economic, cultural, and personal ties with Asia to boost B.C.’s economic prosperity. The goal is to increase trade, investment and knowledge collaboration mainly with China, India, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia.
In 2011, the province released Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan. The plan emphasized Asia’s potential to shape the province’s prosperity, and it made the expansion of market access for its products and services, particularly in Asia, its third pillar.
Building on the above two initiatives, in 2015 the province released Raising our Game in Asia: the BC Jobs Plan Trade Strategy, which sets out a plan to diversify and strengthen the province's trade in Asian markets. The strategy’s three goals are to increase the number of B.C. companies that export to Asia, to increase investments that make B.C.’s sectors competitive, and reduce barriers that impede the flow of goods, services, investment, and people between B.C. and Asia.
The Trade Strategy also calls for annual trade missions to Asia, and touts investments in Asia Business Literacy projects and the launching of an RMB Toolkit.
British Columbia preserves a strong trade presence in Asia, with 12 of its 14 trade offices worldwide located in the region. BC trade offices are located in China (3), India (3), Japan (1), South Korea (1), Hong Kong (1), the Philippines (1), Indonesia (1), and Malaysia (1) (to open in 2017).
The province capitalizes on both its historical and people-to-people connections with Asia in order to cultivate strong trade relations; BC has had long-standing trade links to Hong Kong, and it also maintains a trade office in Chandigarh, India which is the capital of Punjab and home to a vast number of Indian immigrants in BC.
In 2013, the province appointed a Special Representative in Asia to advance B.C.’s trade agenda in the region.
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British Columbia has both the greatest number and greatest diversity of sister city relationships with Asia. In total, the province has 58 sister cities in Asia located in Japan, China, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and India. Altogether, Asia is host to 78% of B.C.’s sister cities worldwide.
B.C. also has two Asian sister provinces: Guangdong, China and Gyeonggi, South Korea. The oldest Canadian sister city partnership with Asia was struck in 1963 between New Westminster and Moriguchi, Japan.
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Did You Know...
British Columbia is home to Canada’s second largest Asian population behind Ontario;
25% of Canadians with Asian ethnicity reside in the province.
About one in four British Columbians is of Asian background.