DIGBY, N.S. - Several delegates from Digby, Annapolis and Clare are hoping a trade mission to China last September will bear fruit in the coming years.
At a public meeting in Bear River on Dec. 6, Municipality of Digby Warden Jimmy MacAlpine and Annapolis County councillor Michael Gunn gave an update on their trip to China.
MacAlpine said a delegation, which included Clare Warden Ronnie LeBlanc, several Clare business people, and the president of Sainte Anne University Allister Surette, visited seven cities in 12 days.
“It was an eye-opener for us,” said MacAlpine. “I think this has a lot of potential for our region, working together as a region to develop this area for trade and tourism.”
The local group made stops in Shanghai and other cities in that region of China. MacAlpine said many of the delegates he spoke with in China were interested in western Nova Scotia because there are plenty of opportunities for development.
“We’re all small community…and we signed a friendship agreement with a city with about 750,000 people. But they treated us on the same scale and it was really good to see. They want to see what opportunities are in it for them as well,” said MacAlpine noting that the regions of Digby, Annapolis and Clare were also promoted as a destination for Chinese tourists.
MacAlpine said he also believes there are educational partnerships available for students and teachers. For example, he said the trip to China could help Sainte Anne University secure Chinese exchange students next year.
He added that teaching in China is an option for professionals from Nova Scotia.
“We toured a lot of schools and universities when we were there and one of the schools we went to taught the Nova Scotia curriculum and there was nine teachers from Nova Scotia in that school and two of them were from Digby.”
Gunn said the sheer number of people living in China and the vast development in the country is what struck him the most during the trip. He said shipyards with 50,000 employees and wineries with 30,000 employees are just a couple examples that impressed him.
“There’s a lot of people…and they are forward thinking in a lot of their energies,” he said.
With so much development in China, Gunn said it’s easy to see why Chinese investors are interested in smaller communities throughout the Maritimes.
“I can tell you right now, they’re looking for a place like this. This is an easy place, they’d like to come visit and I think there’s going to be a lot more Asian influence in the Maritimes as the years come up. And I think we’d better be on the leading edge of it.”