Thousands of people gathered at a park in Taichung on Saturday to take part in the annual “Experience Canada Carnival” held by the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) to highlight the strong commercial ties between Taiwan and Canada and to raise awareness of Canadian businesses in Taiwan.
With red and white maple leaf flags dotting the festival, the event celebrating the country’s 142nd anniversary featured 20 booths with food products, pet supplies, diet supplements and services for immigration and study in Canada.
Fair goers also had a chance to enjoy grilled Canadian beef provided by the Canada Beef Export Federation as well as freshly fried donuts made by Nicholas Pena-Alvarez, a Canadian chef working at a leading hotel in Taichung
“This is a wonderful way to let people who have never been to Canada know a little more about the country. All I knew about Canada was the kind and friendly Canadians that I met. I had no idea that Canada had so many products in Taiwan,” said Mary Wang (王惠盈), a housewife and a Taichung City resident after trying a ginseng drink from a Canada-based company started by a Taiwanese entrepreneur.
Other activities included a Canada-Taiwan Environmental Film Festival, a month-long Canadian food promotion organized by Hotel One, several seminars on studying or immigration to Canada, and a night of drinks and fun at a local pub featuring Canadian beers.
This was the 12th time that CTOT had held Canada Day in Taiwan. Each year, the celebration is held in a different part of the country. The purpose, said Ron MacIntosh, the head of CTOT, is to highlight the diverse and robust relationship between the two countries.
Despite the absence of diplomatic ties, the two share a strong friendship, said MacIntosh, adding that his office, which acts like an embassy, is Canada’s fourth largest visa-issuing agency globally.
MacIntosh said warming relations between Beijing and Taipei had reduced cross-strait tensions and had a positive impact on Taiwan-Canada relations as exemplified by the signing and renewing of various memorandums of understanding on an array of issues including economic consultation, Aboriginal policy, and science and technology.
Rosaline Kwan, director of the Trade and Investment section at CTOT, said Taiwan was Canada’s No. 4 trade partner in Asia and No. 13 worldwide. Trade volume last year was US$4.7 billion, an increase from the previous year despite the global economic situation.