Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps speaks with the vice mayor of Suzhou

Mayor’s business trip to China an ‘eye opener’

When Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps boarded a plane headed for China a few weeks ago, she admits, she didn’t know what to expect.

When Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps boarded a plane headed for China a few weeks ago, she admits, she didn’t know what to expect.

But over the eight-day mission, Helps, along with a 19-person delegation, including representatives from Tourism Victoria, Camosun College, the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University, helped strengthen economic development, tourism and educational opportunities between Victoria and China.

“It was an eye opener for sure,” said Helps.

“One of the things that was the most pleasing is that business in China is relationship based. Every business meeting we had was also a meal, so you share food together and do business and I think that was a welcome surprise and I think we can learn something.”

Over the past few decades, China has experienced two or three-digit gross domestic product growth, which is currently starting to slow down.

Now, the government is focusing on sustainability, especially since the demographic is also starting to change with the removal of the one child rule and an aging population, which has resulted in more children and seniors.

Helps said there is a market in China for clean tech, green tech and software solution opportunities that Victoria-based companies could offer overseas.

“Anyone here with any goods, services or products aimed at kids or seniors, and particularly with seniors, any health care technology, there’s huge market opportunity for (Greater) Victoria-based companies in China,” she said.

“If people do want those opportunities, we can say ‘go to Shanghai and see this person’.” I hope this trip is the beginning of developing those relationships that will actually help the growth of business here in the capital region.”

The trip included stops in Shanghai, Nanjing and Suzhou.

In November, Helps, along with other members of the China delegation will speak at a workshop for people interested in learning more about the trip, specifically for export-focused companies.