HFN to be represented on Premier’s India Trade Mission

When Premier Christy Clark heads to India next week, she will have two Huu-ay-aht First Nations representatives in her delegation.

HFN Councillor John Jack and Huu-ay-aht Executive Director James Edwards will take part in the Premier’s India Trade Mission 2014. It will be a chance to explore opportunities and offer exposure to two of Huu-ay-aht’s most important projects – the transshipment hub and the proposed LNG facility in Sarita Bay.

James Edwards says this is an opportunity to be in the same room as some of their biggest potential customers and partners for both projects. For that reason, when the Port Alberni Port Authority and Steelhead LNG suggested Huu-ay-aht be represented, James Edwards and John Jack agreed to participate.

“It’s important for Huu-ay-aht to demonstrate its understanding of the global economy,” John Jack says. “We should be able to show how international competition requires information-sharing and coordination between business and all levels of government in B.C.”

The trade mission is part of the province’s Job Plan commitment to expand international trade and investment. In addition to the delegates, Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk will join the Premier on the mission, which runs from October 9-18.

“These trade missions are about making connections with the provincial leaders in government and business just as much as they are about making connections with business and government from foreign countries,” John Jack says. “Raising the Huu-ay-aht profile creates opportunities that we can freely explore and then freely choose which we want to work on and gain the benefits of that collaboration.”

India is an emerging trade partner for B.C., and the mission will focus on a number of key areas, including education, natural gas and other resources, agrifoods, clean technology, life sciences, film and digital arts, and finance.

The trade mission delegates will travel to New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Chandigarh to meet with potential partners, investors and key government stakeholders.

James Edwards says not only is this trip important to the Nation because of the opportunities it offers the LNG and port projects, but also for a number of other reasons.

“Huu-ay-aht First Nations has many resources – forestry, trade, cultural, foods – that could be marketed to India,” James Edwards says. “But we also have our Treaty Settlement Lands that could be used for the growing Indian film business.”

James Edwards says this is an opportunity to strengthen ties with the provincial government and improve and maintain relationships they have built in recent years.

“Lucrative opportunities often come about by making connections with a wide variety of business and government representatives and openly sharing intent and information,” John Jack explains. “Many of our most prominent opportunities have come about from making such connections and learning more about what opportunities are out there and how Huu-ay-aht could benefit.”

India has Asia’s third-largest economy and is projected to become one of the largest consumer markets in the world. Its young demographic profile and growing middle class makes it one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

James Edwards says facts like these make building relationships with potential partners and customers in India essential to Huu-ay-aht’s future success.

The mission’s agenda includes a Friend of B.C. Receptions, a B.C. India Investment Lunch, a B.C. India Business Luncheon and a chance to be present when the opening bell rings at the Bombay Stock Exchange.

James Edwards says the business and investor luncheons are extremely important networking opportunities for Huu-ay-aht.

“It will allow us to network with key global players,” James Edwards says. “It is going to put all the right people in the right place, at the right time.”