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Alberta’s beef and tourism industries are among the sectors poised to benefit from a flurry of deals and agreements reached during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to China this week.

On Thursday, the federal government announced the worth more than $1.2 billion. Among those was a memorandum of understanding between Calgary-based beef marketing organization Canada Beef Inc. and Bright Haibo Invested Million, a subsidiary of Bright Food Group, the largest food and beverage company in East Asia.

The partnership, worth an estimated $20 million, is expected to strengthen the Chinese company’s relationship with Canada Beef and support the overall growth in exports and marketing of Canadian beef into the Chinese market.

Canada Beef also signed a partnership agreement with a chef’s school in Shanghai that will provide training on the preparation of beef dishes to more than 1,000 chefs a year across China.

China is already the second-largest market (after the United States) for Canadian beef producers, accounting for 27,730 tonnes of exports valued at $215.6 million in 2015.

“They have a huge, growing, vibrant, brand-savvy middle class that has significant purchasing power,” said Rob Meiger, president of Canada Beef Inc. “The growth potential of that market for us is huge.”

On the tourism side, local officials applauded an announcement by Canada’s ambassador to China that the government will open seven additional visa offices in that country. The move is expected to make it easier for Chinese visitors to plan trips to Canada.

Chief executive of Tourism Calgary Cindy Ady at the agency’s Beltline offices Tuesday December 17, 2013. Ted Rhodes Ted Rhodes / Calgary Herald

“It’s something we’ve been asking for a while, and so I’m very excited,” said Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady. “Every barrier you take out of the way when it comes to travel and trade is just one more advantage for our market.”

China has been the fastest-growing market for Alberta tourism operators for a number of years, ever since the Chinese government granted “approved destination status” to Canada in 2009.

In June, China’s Hainan Airlines debuted a non-stop flight between Calgary International Airport and Beijing. Ady said it’s too early to release firm numbers, but early indications are that the flight is already having a positive impact on local tourism.

“We’re really happy with the uptick that we’re seeing. We really do see this China opportunity as one of really great promise as we move forward,” Ady said.

Other deals announced Thursday include an agreement between Swan Hills SynFuels of Alberta and Haicheng Petroleum Machinery Manufacturing Co. Ltd. creating a joint venture valued at $100 million, that will invest in Swan Hills’ coal gasification demonstration facility in Alberta to restart it and fund its operations. The technology will also be applied to a resource-development project in Liaoning Province, China.

A deal was also struck between Alberta’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and BYD, the world’s largest green vehicle manufacturer, that will see the two parties cooperate on the research, development, and commercialization of autonomous vehicle technologies, such as cars, trucks, buses, and industrial vehicles.

Twitter.com/AmandaMsteph
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