Saskatchewan’s “Trade Officer” in China visits Edwards
Release Date : July 12, 2012
Who knew that Saskatchewan has an official government trade office in China? The Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies was pleased to host Mr. Richard Choi, the Saskatchewan Government Representative to the Western Trade and Investment Partnership Office in Shanghai, China, as a guest lecturer on campus.
Richard Choi first met the Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies after presenting a lecture to 42 MBA students, who visited his Shanghai office last June when the centre organized a 10-day MBA International Business Study Tour to China. After learning of Richard Choi’s intended July visit to Regina for government debriefings, the Hanlon Centre partnered with the Saskatchewan International Trade and Development Officer Training Program (SITO) and encouraged the government representative to include Saskatoon as part of his itinerary. Richard Choi accepted the invitation to provide a presentation to UofS faculty and students about his unique role and the opportunities (and challenges) for Saskatchewan-China trade. Like his speech with Edwards MBA students, this subsequent lecture now geared to undergraduate commerce students, helped Mr. Choi to continue his message and to explain what it is he does for Saskatchewan. Mr. Choi explained that “the objective is to talk to as many people as possible about Saskatchewan’s presence in China and what we can do for them”.
As part of the (SITO) invitation, Richard Choi also received an opportunity to network with several Saskatoon-based provincial and municipal government agencies as well as local business leaders. Hanlon Centre student associates affiliated with SITO helped to organize the agenda. Sonja Shin, Carolyn Aziz, and Luke Coupal worked with the Hanlon Centre’s Director, Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos, to organize a “visiting delegation” itinerary where Mr. Choi was able to learn more about what Saskatoon has to offer regarding international trade and investment. Two days of meetings saw Richard Choi introduced to His Worship Don Atchison, Mayor of Saskatoon, Tim LeClair of the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority, as well as businessmen from the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce. There was a meeting with the University of Saskatchewan’s Industrial Liaison Office,and the Hanlon students involved in the SITO Program also ensured that the government guest met with Canpotex, Cameco, Global Infobrokers Inc., and even a local, award winning winery with thoughts to enter the China market.
"I consider myself pretty lucky to be a SITO student and to be able to work for the Hanlon Centre," said Luke Coupal, "companies like Cameco and Canpotex are important to the Saskatchewan economy, and I don't imagine I'd have the opportunity to meet with these business leaders were it not for the Hanlon Centre and SITO’s visiting dignitaries.” All three student staff were also able to sit in on business conversations and learn how international business decisions are made. “I grew up in Shanghai" added Sonja Shin, "but watching Mr. Choi discuss the business relationship between Saskatchewan and China has given me a fresh perspective on my home country. I didn't know that Saskatchewan played as big a role in China as it does."
The Hanlon Centre, in partnership with the Saskatchewan International Trade Officer program and with strategic government/corporate partners, focuses on developing the international business skills of U of S students. Partnering with SITO provides visiting dignitaries like Richard Choi who then provide a “trade assistant” role experience and opportunity for students to practice their communication and networking skills as they arrange meetings between dignitaries and some of the most influential people in the province.
“I must say that I was very impressed with the work [the SITO students] did. I think the Hanlon Centre is doing something really great for the guests, students and the university” expressed Mr. Choi. The Hanlon Centre and the SITO Program have handled previous dignitary visits on campus, including most recently the Chinese Consul-General in Calgary, and the Brazilian Consul-General in Vancouver.