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Trade mission brings U.S. Consulate to Nanaimo

Cross-border business was top of the agenda when Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation hosted a representative from the U.S. Consulate this week.

Tom Hanson, U.S. Consulate General principal commercial attaché for Western Canada, paid a visit to Nanaimo Wednesday to look for trade opportunities for U.S. and Nanaimo region business, manufacturing and tourism.

Wednesday’s visit was Hanson’s first to the Island. He was posted to the U.S. Consulate in Calgary in September from a previous posting in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

He and the NEDC set up a day’s worth of meetings with Nanaimo-based companies currently exporting to the U.S. plus companies that are expanding bases of operations. Hanson looks for U.S. export opportunities as well as ways Canadian companies expand into and invest in U.S. communities.

“I’ve had a variety of interviews with three or four different companies in the tech and service sectors that are based in your community who are already robustly selling and trading in the U.S. and some are expanding to the U.S. now,” Hanson said, but would not divulge the companies, other than to say they are involved in renewable energy and “manufacturers of monitoring systems and vehicles, all based on emerging technologies.”

Hanson was surprised at the size of the gross domestic product of the Nanaimo region and the diversity of economic sectors. Those and other positive indicators for the region also gave him, he said, a good sense Nanaimo is a good destination for export potential and for the future inbound missions that the U.S. Commercial Service would coordinate to come into B.C.

All those factors combined are favourable for what Hanson refers to as subnational diplomacy – small regions that set up trade relations with other regions, states or even countries – that Nanaimo could take advantage of.

“Because more and more metro areas are becoming de facto import and export centres,” Hanson said. “They have everything they need and the smart one are positioning themselves as a destination for trade and research and development.”

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