Canada looks east with professional services expo in Hong Kong

Ottawa seeks to grow trade ties with China in market for professional services such as IT

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 April, 2013, 6:16am

Canada's effort to lessen its trade reliance on the United States by expanding into China has found an effective launching pad in Hong Kong, says Canadian International Trade Minister Ed Fast.

Fast, who was speaking yesterday on the sidelines of the International Information and Communications Technology Expo in Wan Chai, said Hong Kong was now Canada's seventh largest export market for professional services, worth US$1.2 billion last year.

"Regardless [of] the global economic crisis, the trade relationship between Canada and China has grown quite tremendously," said Fast, who leads Ottawa's Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative.

"Hong Kong and Canada can grow the relationship in the area of services because much of the value in trade now is in services."

Fast said that services - including architectural, cultural and engineering services - now represented 15 per cent of Canada's external trade.

Trade involving information technology was also on the rise.

Some 22 Canadian IT firms participated in the four-day expo, which began yesterday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Participants said they were eager to build partnerships in Hong Kong as part of their efforts to tap the fast-growing markets in Asia.

Behzad Behroozan, co-founder of Muprime Technology, a Vancouver-based mobile marketing firm which focuses on QR code (a type of matrix barcode) design, said remote data storage and access - or "cloud" - technology was a promising area of business opportunity in the region.

Another IT firm, I Think Security, which provides data protection and cloud security technology, was seeking partners in the banking and telecommunications sectors.

"A security-enabled cloud service could be seen as a value-added service for the banks or telecom operators," said Cedric Jeannot, the firm's CEO.