It's just a few days into Norm Letnick’s federally led trade mission to China, but the provincial agriculture minister says they're already seeing positive results.
He is currently touring China with Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and other industry and government leaders from across the country, as they attempt to sign more trade agreements with Asia.
"An agreement was signed between the governments of Canada and China that will lead to full, unimpeded access for fresh BC cherries into China. As a result BC cherry growers stand to generate millions of dollars a year in new revenue,” says Letnick.
"The BC government has worked closely with cherry growers, the federal government and Chinese importers to reach this agreement. We look forward to building on this momentum and playing the same role in helping gain access for fresh BC blueberries, as well as working to expand the markets for BC pork, wine, seafood and other products.”
Letnick says progress has also been made between the two governments on the possible sale of BC blueberries, which could result in up to $65-million worth of exports each year.
“The opportunities in China are huge. We've set record agrifood exports to China in each of the last four years, and we want that to grow."
The far east, especially China, is extremely important to BC's rapidly expanding cherry industry, says David Geen, Chair of the BC Cherry Association's Market Access Committee.
"Cherries are a highly perishable fruit – with a lot of competition in the markets. Expanding the marketing options strengthens sales and returns to producers".
BC cherries are already exported to over 20 countries around the world, but China represents an enormous new market opportunity with very strong demand.
Inspectors from China are expected to be in the Okanagan for two weeks in early August.
Agriculture and seafood exports to China have increased more than five fold to total $5.6 billion annually, since 2006.
Top Canadian agriculture exports to the China already include canola, canola oil, soybeans, dried peas, wheat and pork.