While there has justifiably been a lot of focus on opportunities pertaining to emerging countries in Asia and Latin America, we can often forget about the significance of the trade relationship between Canada and the US, which is the second largest bilateral trade relationship in the world. The US is the largest economy in the world and its most populated state, is also home to the 6th largest economy of the world with an annual GDP exceeding $2.5 trillion.
With a population of close to 40 million, California has had a long-standing relationship with Canada and BC. Within California, Southern California with a population base of over 22 million brings in combination with BC a total combined population of almost 27 million connected within the same time zone only 2.5 hours away by plane. Many BC residents know Southern California from childhood trips to Disneyland while many Southern Californians know BC through Alaska cruises or ski trips to Whistler. In fact, today the annual number of air passengers traveling between Vancouver and Southern California exceeds 1 million passengers a year, almost 200,000 more than that between Vancouver and Mainland China. Vancouver has 124 flights a week in the summer to Southern California more than twice that for Toronto. The extent of travel demand and air capacity really speaks to the depth of the trade, travel, and migratory relationships between the two regions.
As is well known, these regions have the first and third largest film and TV production centers in North America and with the continued growth in production in BC, most major Hollywood TV and film personalities have at one time, filmed in BC. Further synergies between the regions lie in the commonality of industry sectors such as: agri-foods, tourism, life sciences, clean technology, aerospace, information technology, and of course, the creative industry. Companies such as Sony Pictures Imageworks, Lionsgate Productions, Disney, Encore Hollywood, Ledcor, Onni group, and many others have established offices in both locations. A further common trait between BC and Southern California is the depth of their relationships with Asia, as both jurisdictions are extremely well positioned as gateways from their respective countries to Asia. As a common catalyst, both locations have a sizeable demographic of local Asian diaspora built up over many generations of immigration and trade flows.
As BC Ambassador for Maple Business Council, I am looking forward to welcoming back to Vancouver the principals of MAPLE Business Council, Robert Kelle and Stephen Armstrong, as they make a return visit on April 16th. This trip follows on their initial visit to our region during the BC Tech Summit in 2017. This year, they will be joined by Mr. Stephen Cheung, President of the World Trade Centre - Los Angeles, who will be our keynote speaker at our reception hosted by PWC, and supported by the Vancouver Hotel Destination Association, Air Canada, and Snell and Wilmer LLP.
Jason Tse is the Business Ambassador to British Columbia for MAPLE Business Council - an executive-level cross-border organization promoting investment, trade, and entrepreneurship between Southern California and Canada. Jason is based in Vancouver, B.C., and is a marketing executive at the Vancouver Airport Authority and is the former Executive Director of Business Development at HQ Vancouver.