Vancouver’s tech industry is key to Canada’s relationship with Indo-Pacific

Both provincial and federal governments highlight opportunities for local businesses to embark on diverse trade with the region.

A recent event hosted by the Vancouver Board of Trade, featuring Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, Melanie Joly. Photo: Allison Gacad

The federal government launched the Indo-Pacific strategy in November last year, and Metro Vancouver is positioned to play an important policy and trade role in the fastest-growing region in the world. By 2030, the area will be home to two thirds of the global middle class; by 2040, it will account for more than half of the global economy — more than twice the share of the United States’ GDP this year. With a recent Vancouver visit from Canada’s minister of foreign affairs — alongside provincial ministers’ trips to Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore taking place this week — here’s what you need to know about how it all affects Vancouver tech.

Indo-Pacific markets of interest to B.C.: Among the 14 countries recognized in the recent B.C. Trade Diversification Strategy as mature, emerging, and new markets, nine are in the Indo Pacific, including China. Within the three new markets are two Indo-Pacific countries of interest – Vietnam and Taiwan — with the report noting several emergent export and investment opportunities for Vancouver tech industries, such as cleantech and life sciences.

Federal diversification away from China: “We have $100 billion of trade with China,” said Melanie Joly, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, at a Vancouver Board of Trade event. Amidst Canada’s sizeable economic relationship with China, Minister Joly emphasized the strategy’s aims to offer opportunities to gain market access elsewhere, including upcoming trade missions to India and Japan later this year. Just last December, Vancouver entrepreneurs were part of the suite of life sciences and cleantech leaders selected to participate in the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada’s Women-only Business Mission to Japan.

Geopolitics of energy: “Starting next year, LNG [liquified natural gas] will be exported to Korea and Japan,” said Minister Joly. “It’s all about economic security, which includes energy security and food security.” The two island nations are energy-importers historically dependent on Russian oil, but look to Canada to provide LNG, which is touted as a cleaner alternative among the fossil fuels. Hydrogen, which must be produced from fossil fuels or renewable energy, is anticipated to play a role in energy export. Vancouver remains one of the top regions for the production of hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Critical mineral tech pipeline: “We have all the critical minerals we need in a battery,” said Minister Joly. While she noted Indo-Pacific interest in these resources, the minister also emphasized the value in transforming the value chain from raw material to product, particularly through the use of AI. Although Vancouver is recognized as a global leader in mining, currently, China is the world’s largest producer of critical minerals.

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