Mayor Kraemer heading to China for trade talks


 By Barb McKay


Kincardine mayor Larry Kraemer will travel to China in May to discuss trade opportunities.


He is one of a handful of Ontario mayors invited on the 10-day trade mission by the Canada China Investment Association. Others invited include mayors from Erin, Belleville, Petrolia and Niagara-on-the-Lake. The group leaves May 15 and will spend time in Shanghai and Beijing before returning home on May 25.


“They were very clear that they are looking for trade opportunities – bilateral trade – and they are looking at Ontario,” Kraemer said when he told Kincardine council about the trip during its meeting last Wednesday.


Costs associated with the trip, minus airfare, are being covered by the Canada China Investment Association. Bruce County council has agreed to allow Kraemer to use money from his conference fund to cover the cost of airfare.


Councillor Ron Coristine said the trade mission should involve individuals who are entrenched in Kincardine’s economic development planning. Kraemer said he had made his involvement with the trade mission known to the Penetangore Regional Economic Development Corporation (PREDC), but said he was lucky just to be invited on the trip.


Gerry Taylor, executive director of PREDC, said the economic development corporation has been in talks with at least one company in China about business opportunities in and around Kincardine.


“PREDC has established a year plus long working relationship with a business import and export proponent who operates out of China and Canada,” he said in an email to The Independent. “The proponent is working with government and business leaders located in a province of China, located south of Shanghai.

To date, we have assisted the proponents with securing a strategic business opportunity located outside of our region and the bulk export of local honey. There are several other agricultural related products that have been identified by the proponents, and we continue to assist them.”


Taylor said there are plenty of import and export opportunities if relationships can be developed with the right people. Creating those opportunities, however, take planning and research.


China is a very large market with a rising middle class looking for quality products, and we are a region abundant with such quality agricultural related products,” he said. “To create greater wealth within our area we need to build relationships and we need to focus and establish more "value-added" agricultural products that can become export ready to China and other countries. Personally, from a healthy economic diversification perspective, I would much rather enjoy our region exporting more products into China than importing their goods for sale through the many big box stores.”


He noted that the trade mission could be a good opportunity to make business connections.


“This is as big as the time, effort and resources that can be put into this engagement,” he said. “China is a huge market and if you have passionate and creative business people involved with discovering win-win business development opportunities, we could do very well. Conducting business development within Bruce County and the surrounding area solely, limits our pool of opportunities. If we as a community want to diversify our economy, we need to be out there on the world stage looking for value and new opportunities.”


Kraemer said he will be looking at opportunities related to the Bruce Energy Centre, the natural gas project and agriculture.


In a related venture, PREDC is working on developing a China to Bruce County export matchmaking service and is working on securing funding.


Although there are plenty of federal and provincial ministry assistance programs available to assist businesses with exporting goods, I am looking at developing a "fast track" export/import mechanism that would be established here locally for export purposes,” Taylor said. “This model could evolve evolve to engage other countries as well.”