Investment and financial leaders gathered here Wednesday to explore new approaches to expand Canada's trade and investment cooperation with China and other growing Asian economies.
Even though Canada and China aren't bound by the historical silk road trading links that are resurging today, it makes sense for Canada to increase its shift towards China, Li Aihua, president and CEO of Bank of China (Canada), said in a keynote speech at the second annual Pacific Finance and Trade Summit.
"Given the current understanding and the market and knowledge of the B.C. companies, this is really the starting point for the Canadian companies to diversify their global markets to make sure that they can play a role in the Belt and Road Initiative," he told Xinhua in an interview.
Chinese President Xi Jinping's "One Belt, One Road" initiative aims to promote Chinese investment in trading partners and to address the problem China faces with industrial overcapacity at home, he added.
"One Belt" is based on the historical Silk Road through Eurasia, while "One Road" refers to the "maritime Silk Road" -- a sea route that linked Southeast Asia, South Asia, Arabia and Africa.
"This is a very good opportunity for both the Canadian and Chinese companies to join hands on those projects which are really relevant to the capacities of the companies here in Canada and in China," Li said.
China and Canada have a long history of cooperation, especially in Western Canada, where immigrants began arriving and building businesses here in the 19th century.
Recently, Canada was designated a trading hub for China's currency, which helps boost international business between the two countries while also allowing Canadians to open bank accounts in Canada with China's yuan.
Shi Hao, chief representative for Canada, Agricultural Bank of China, also believed both China and Canada can complement each other in many ways.
"China is a huge growing market -- probably the number one market in the world. And Canada has massive land, abundant resources from ocean to land, so that's where we need each other to grow economy," Shi told Xinhua.
British Columbia's Finance Minister Mike de Jong told the conference that anti-trade rhetoric coming out of the United States in its presidential election has shown his province that it's more important now than ever to start looking beyond the United States for trade and investment opportunities.
He said this summit is a step through the right doors of cooperation between Canada and Asian economies.