Strengthening exports, recruitment priorities for Nova Scotia government in trips to Asia and France

Nova Scotia’s provincial government is about to embark on a pair of overseas trips with recruitment and strengthening exports listed as the main goals.

Premier Stephen McNeil will travel to Asia for Atlantic Growth Strategy events in China and Japan between Nov. 10-24.

Federal ministers and other premiers from Atlantic Canada will also take part in the mission.

McNeil says they plan to build on the growth the province has enjoyed in annual exports over the past decade.

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READ MORE: McNeil off on 10-day trade mission to Asia

That major increase is listed as a rise to $604 million from $54 million, with McNeil venturing to Asia five times in that period. His most recent trip came six months before this one.

“We’ve seen a huge difference in the price of lobster. It’s keeping that price high even in the winter months,” McNeil explained. “If you would’ve gone back even as far as 2012, you could’ve bought lobster in this province for under $5 a pound at Christmas time and that’s no longer the case because we’ve diversified our marketplace.”

McNeil says ensuring the influx of international students continues to remain strong is another major element of the mission that will see him take part in education and university events in China.

“You see now almost 50 per cent of our international students come from China,” he said.

“Our postsecondary institutions, we know in order for them to be sustainable we need to continue to attract more international students,” he explained. “That marketplace is one that we believe we’re just scratching the surface.”

Shortly after McNeil lands in the Far East, Immigration Minister Lena Diab will also travel overseas to France and Belgium to take part in Destination Canada, a recruitment opportunity organized by the Canadian Embassy in Paris.

An estimated 4,000 people are expected to attend several days of talks.

Diab said part of her mandate as Minister of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie is to strengthen the French language in the province.

She indicated this recruitment effort will target those who speak French, but won’t necessarily be limited to Francophones.

“The goal is to attract more people who want to come and work in Nova Scotia to fill our labour gaps,” Diab said.

READ MORE: Frequent flyers: Nova Scotia’s Stephen McNeil tops list of premiers racking up international travel

“The people that are there are not necessarily Parisian or French people,” she explained. “They come from everywhere and most of them speak two, three, four plus languages.”

Along with Diab, eight staffers will take part in the mission. The province estimates the total cost for the trip at $45,000.

They would not provide an estimate for McNeil’s two-week trip to Asia, which includes six delegates.

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