Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dan Veniez hits the road to sell the merits of the Northwest

Fresh from his protocol success with the Allied First Nations, Dan Veniez, the Chairmen of Ridley Terminals is on the road with his new partners seeking out trade opportunities in China and reporting back to the home office with some economic advice.

In Monday’s Daily News, Mr. Veniez outlined the mission he, Lax Kw’alaams Chief John Helin and the Gitxsan’s lead negotiator Elmer Derrick are on as they update the Chinese business community on the many opportunities that may await them on this side of the Pacific Ocean.

Chairman Dan is never at a loss for words and has become rather unbridled in his writing of late, frequently being found on the pages of the Vancouver Sun and Globe and Mail editorial pages, weighing in on many issues of the day in the province and the nation.

In the past he has favoured one or two local journalists with his thoughts and occasional bombast, once upon a time hiring one of the more helpful of media types to the staff of New Skeena Forest Products, that after frequent appearances on a local radio talk show.

This time he has turned his email account into a conduit of information and opinion for George T. Baker, updating us on the many economic issues that are rising up to challenge the world economy and the impact that it may have on the Northwest.

Of interest to the local community might be his impression of our profile on the Chinese business scene which he says is “one of low awareness”, a rather disappointing report considering the high profile visits of local politicians over the years.
Only a few months agao we had that trade mission to China, designed as a show the flag preview visit prior to the Olympic Games. Whatever we may have wished to come from those visits, it apparently hasn't come to pass if Mr. Veniez’s interpretations are correct.

With updates on the global trade economy, finances and bit of showing the flag as well, Veniez reports back to the desk of Mr. Baker of the Daily News.

Ridley boss, First Nation leaders take ideas on road
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, November 10, 2008

Page one and three

Ridley Terminals Inc. chairman Dan Veniez is warning those connected to the port of Prince Rupert that Chinese exports might slow and says it's time to be prudent about the local economy.

Veniez, who is on a trade mission to China along with Lax Kw'alaams elected chief John Helin and Gitxsan lead treaty negotiator Elmer Derrick, said that the only negative he has encountered so far on his mission is the low awareness on the part of the Chinese business community about what the Northwest offers.

"We're telling the unique and exciting story of the competitive cost and service advantages of the Northwest corridor, the Port of Prince Rupert and Ridley Terminals.

"People are listening with great interest," Veniez said.

But he also says that business leaders in the Far East are feeling good about the Northwest's port.

"There are no concerns at all about the port and northern corridor. Quite the contrary," said Veniez through an email exchange with the Prince Rupert Daily News on Thursday.

"Their general reaction to Prince Rupert, the port, the corridor, and the investments Canada has made in supporting infrastructure is very positive."

Helin said that last month's protocol agreement with Ridley, "created the right environment to work with Mr. Veniez to promote Prince Rupert to the audience of Chinese business and political leaders.

"When they see the chairman of a major corporation with us, it sends a hugely positive signal. It gives our message even more credibility," added Helin.

Derrick, an RTI board member, said: "my message is that our community, and the Northwest as a whole, is an attractive place to invest and we're open for business.

"That's a major theme of all aboriginal leaders on this mission. There's a general impression that we're somehow not eager to do deals. We're here to dispel that notion."

Trade with China has become an increasing concern for port cities ever since the global markets fell into a financial crisis last month and consumer demand dropped in North America.
A weakening US dollar and Canadian loonie has lessened demand for Chinese goods, hurting the shipping industry.

Last month, the loonie dropped a record 12 per cent against the US dollar, the most since at least 1950, according to the Bank of Canada.

Another concerning indicator is the Baltic Dry Index, a service that tracks shipping commodities. The index was strong back in May but has dropped 90 per cent since then.

Veniez said that businessmen in the Far East want to increase business, but until the North American markets strengthen, locals should be realistic about international trade.

"They (the Chinese) are feeling the impact of weakening demand from the rest of the world.
"That means business will likely decrease, not increase, any time soon," said Veniez.

He added that the impact of the financial crisis has hit globally but that it was too soon to tell, however, what the real impact would be on volumes coming to and from Prince Rupert.

"But I think prudence dictates that we brace ourselves for a major correction, batten down the hatches, and stay focused on finding ways to develop a competitive niche for the unique offerings of the Northwest."

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