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International Trade Minister Ed Fast addresses the International Trade Day 2014: The Future of North American Competitiveness conference in Ottawa, Wednesday May 14, 2014.

FRED CHARTRAND/The Canadian Press

The federal government is opening up four new trade offices in China, dedicated to serving the needs of small and medium-sized companies looking to expand their exports to Asia.

The new offices will bring the total of Canadian missions in China to 15, adding to a tally that includes the embassy in Beijing, four consulates general and six existing trade offices. The four new ones will be spread out across the country and focus on specific sectors of the economy depending on their location, including information technology and telecommunications.

"We're expanding our footprint in China to help Canadian [small and medium enterprises] boost their exports," Trade Minister Ed Fast said in a speech during a commercial mission to China on Monday.

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"Making it easier for Canadian businesses to increase their exports in the Asia Pacific region, and more specifically in China, is my priority," he added.

Since coming to power in 2006, the Conservatives have announced 21 new trade offices. China is home to 10 of them; there are five in India, two in Brazil, and four elsewhere.

Speaking in Shanghai, Mr. Fast said that Canada opened its first foreign trade office in the city more than 100 years ago, adding Canada will soon have more than 100 trade officials on the ground in the country. He added that since 2005, two-way trade between China and Canada has grown by an average of 8.5 per cent a year.

"China and the Southeast Asian family of nations have quickly become the high-growth markets of the future, and our government is determined to ensure that Canada is well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that these dynamic markets represent," Mr. Fast said.

Leading a delegation of Canadian businesses, the Trade Minister promoted the country's know-how in sustainable technologies to address China's pollution problems.

"As a world leader in sustainable technologies, Canada holds the solutions to many of the daunting environmental challenges facing China," he said.

Mr. Fast also made it clear that Canada is interested in obtaining more foreign investment from Chinese firms, making a specific pitch on behalf of Canada's energy and resources sectors.

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"Canada is also a land of abundant natural resources that can help to power the kind of industrial growth China has witnessed over the past few years," he said. "Canada's resource-based industries are globally valued and capital intensive, with great growth potential for investors, and we can help meet China's growing need for energy and natural resources."

The trade offices in China are designed to work in sync with the new network of 25 trade commissioners based in Canada, where they will be embedded among business associations.

"Under Canada's Global Action Plan, we're aligning resources with priority markets via redeployments and strengthening the trade commissioner services network," Mr. Fast said.

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