Faced with the twin challenge of maintaining its unprecedented pace of economic growth while protecting the environment and enhancing the quality of life for its citizens, the Chinese government has turned to promoting the development and adoption of clean technologies. This has led to a significant increase in the amount of investment in the cleantech market, and improvements in regulations. As of 2017, the Chinese share of the global cleantech market reached 21 per cent, and the overall investment in the industry increased by 1,600 per cent between 2016 and 2017.
The Chinese cleantech market presents an incredible opportunity for Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs. Canada has a strong, internationally recognized cleantech industry worth C$13.27 billion, with 850 companies employing 55,000. In 2017, the Global Cleantech Innovation Index ranked Canada fourth, noting the strength of its emerging sector and abundance of cleantech funds. By signing the Joint Declaration on Canada-China Clean Technology Cooperation (February 2016), both Ottawa and Beijing acknowledged that they could benefit mutually through closer collaboration in this regard – by Canada supplying the cleantech products and services that Beijing demands.
However, Canada’s cleantech companies have been struggling to secure their place in China due to a set of unique challenges – a point that both government and industry have acknowledged. As such, the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Assistant Deputy Ministers Meeting, “Developing a Collaborative Approach to Exporting to China,” was convened on October 12, 2017 to facilitate a discussion between the government and the industry on ways of collaborating more effectively to expand Canadian opportunities in China’s cleantech market. This report presents a summary of the meeting, which culminated with the following recommendations:
- In general, government should be more present and involved in supporting Canadian companies in China;
- Government and companies should work together to develop a more coherent ‘Canada Brand’;
- Canadian companies should collaborate more closely with each other to tackle the “scale” challenge;
- More opportunities like CNOOC-Nexen trade missions should be provided; and,
- A “hub” of Canadian cleantech companies with presence in China should be considered.