British Columbia (BC) is the most ethnically diverse province in Canada, with immigrants comprising almost 30 per cent of its population. The province welcomes nearly 40,000 immigrants each year, the majority of whom emigrated from Asia-Pacific, particularly China, India and South Korea. "Multiculturalism has become a way of life in BC. We see it as a competitive advantage, as diversity opens opportunities to do business across cultures," says Teresa Wat, British Columbia's minister of international trade. "Now, as we look at deepening our ties with Asia-Pacific and China, we are leveraging our multicultural population to seize business development leads that will enhance trading of BC's world-class goods and services, and bring in investments." Offering top-ranked quality of life, people from all cultures continue to converge in British Columbia in their hope to secure a prosperous future for their families and businesses. It has become a global magnet for talent, attracting a workforce that is ethnically diverse, well-educated and highly skilled. This contributes to British Columbia's attractiveness as a base for international companies, along with the province's strategic location, vast resources, pro-business regulations and low taxes. The international trade ministry is closely working with private-sector partners and other government agencies to cement the province's reputation as North America's gateway for Asia-Pacific trade. Three ministerial trade missions have been launched since September 2011 to promote British Columbia's distinct advantages to its key Asian markets - China, South Korea, Japan and India. "In this competitive and challenging economic environment, we need to keep reminding our priority markets that we exist and we have all the best resources available for them," Wat says. "In our Asian trade missions, we strengthen government-to-government relations, which we found extremely critical in opening the doors of business." British Columbia's jobs and trade mission to China, Japan and South Korea, led by Premier Christy Clark and Wat in December, was exceptionally successful. The event led to the signing of several partnership agreements with Chinese organisations and businesses, including a trade and investment co-operation deal with the Guangdong Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation covering the south China region. British Columbia also forged an energy partnership agreement with Japan. "We will continue to tap our cultural diversity to connect British Columbia businesses with Asian demand, thereby keeping our province's economy stable and growing," Wat says.