Canadian companies see new routes to riches in China

China has new hands on the governing helm, and Canadian companies operating in the country hope to see some changes as a result.

With a new President, Xi Jinping, new Premier, Li Keqiang, and a new cabinet guiding China’s economic engine for the next decade, there is a greater pool of international experience and education, and some early signs of reform.

The new Finance Minister is Lou Jiwei, well known to Canada’s resource sector as the former influential chairman and chief executive officer of the China Investment Corp. sovereign wealth fund. New Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng is calling for China’s trade growth to exceed its GDP growth – music to the ears of the country’s trade partners. And the reformist head of the People’s Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan, is to stay on despite having reached retirement age.

Howard Balloch, a former Canadian ambassador to China who is now chairman of investment firm Canaccord Genuity Asia, predicts “re-energizing” reforms of state-owned enterprises and the financial sector.

“Structural reform has … been largely frozen for a number of years,” he noted. “I don’t think we’re going to see anything radical in the short term. I think we’ll see less dawdling on some issues they should have dealt with,” he added. “I hope, but don’t know, this will be good for Canadian companies waiting for approvals.”

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