What will result from Vancouver’s largest ever business mission to China?

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Vancouver City Hall

Vancouver’s largest ever Business and Cultural mission to China is set to wrap up this week, which could leave many Vancouverites wondering how the business mission will strengthen Vancouver’s local economy.

Mayor Gregor Robertson led the mission along with a consortium of 18 local businesses, including BuiltSpace, Bardel Entertainment and IndoChino. The mission also includes a large cultural component with Ballet BC and Goh Ballet among the participants.

The mission has hosted three Invest-In-Vancouver Seminars, and aims to forge partnerships between Canadian and Chinese companies.

It will be difficult to tell how much of an impact this trade mission will have for some time. There are, however, some interesting perspectives on the matter.

Foreign Affairs recently published a piece about how globalization has pushed cities to have their own “foreign policy” independent of the state, province or country they are located in. The article talks mainly about major cities like Sao Paulo, and New York, where even the mayoral race receives global news coverage. Although considering the Rob Ford scandal, we may have to reconsider this kind of coverage as being indicative of a city’s global reach…

With the article’s focus on New York, Sao Paulo and others, it is interesting to see that Vancouver is also actively taking steps in promoting itself on the global stage. Indeed, major business missions like this could provide a boon to local businesses and encourage foreign direct investment into Vancouver.

Of course, there are other perspectives on the effectiveness of a “foreign policy” at the municipal level, and particularly on the effectiveness of trade missions. Charlie Smith, editor of the Georgia Straight, cites a 2009 UBC study that found that these missions often produce no benefit at all. You can read about it here.

In the meantime, Vancouver Economic Board’s twitter feed (@VanEconomic) has posted multiple updates, and it appears that the mission is meeting many of its goals. Just yesterday, Goh Ballet signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Ballet of China, and earlier in the week Vancouver-based Nerd Corps Entertainment signed a partnership with Chinese based Ciwen Media Group.

Image: Josef Hanus / Shutterstock

Connect with Elise Belzil on Twitter @elisebelzil.

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Elise Belzil is a UBC graduate of Political Science and English Literature who enjoys "keeping up" with all things political and pop culture related. This former Albertan can be found around Vancouver indulging in sushi, good coffee, and great local beers.

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