Opportunities Abound

Trade and Tourism Minister Pat Bell talks to Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce about business opportunities in China and India

The 2.5 billion-people-strong markets of India and China represent economic opportunity for the people and businesses of Parksville Qualicum Beach, Pat Bell told a crowd at Tigh-Na-Mara Resort on Thursday.

“Both of these countries want what we have to sell,” Bell, a Prince George MLA who is not running for re-election May 14, told the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce gathering. “And you can take the word ‘communism’ out of China. There is no more entrepreneurial nation in the world than China.”

Before he spoke with The NEWS in an interview after his presentation, Bell did tell the gathering the growing middle class in China and India could mean big business and jobs for Parksville Qualicum Beach.

“They are stacked like cordwood in those countries and you know what they want in their holidays? They want space,” said Bell, who has made numerous trips to China and Indian in the past few years. We need to reach out and grab that opportunity.”

Bell said in an interview that the people of B.C. who want to sell products and services to China and Indian can ask for the help of provincially-funded trade offices in these countries that are staffed with people who understand the issues and needs of the locals.

He also said he was concerned an Adrian Dix-led NDP government would close those offices. “He was in Prince George last week and said in front of 450 people (at the Council of Forestry Industries convention) that he didn’t believe that government had any role in international market development,” Bell said. “There wasn’t a person in the room who believed anything he said.”

“I fundamentally believe that governments have a role in market development, whether it be for forestry, tourism, international education — but Adrian Dix stood on the stage and said that government has no role in that.”

The NEWS asked Bell if the people of China and India hear these things, or do they even pay attention to the comments of B.C. politicians?

“Not today, but they will pay attention when he doesn’t show up and they will pay attention when he closes the trade offices and they will pay attention when he doesn’t send ministers — when they aren’t there actively pursuing those investment opportunities.”

Bell also linked international market development to his endorsement of the B.C. Liberal candidate in the Parksville Qualicum Beach constituency, Paralympic gold medalist Michelle Stilwell.

“We need to prepare ourselves like we have never prepared ourselves before,” said Bell. “Great athletes know how to prepare.”