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Offshore wind projects top priority for new Canadian envoy

2018/09/26 15:39:00

Jordan Reeves

Taipei, Sept. 26 (CNA) Canada's new representative to Taiwan has pledged to continue to improve bilateral relations between the two sides while setting a personal goal of seeing through a Canadian- invested offshore wind project as his top priority in office.

Jordan Reeves, the new executive director of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT), arrived in Taiwan on Aug. 25 to head the office, which is Canada's de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

Jordan Reeves

It is the second time the 24-year Global Affairs Canada veteran has been assigned to the CTOT after serving as its deputy director from 2002 to 2006.

He is filling the vacancy left by the departure of his predecessor, Mario Ste-Marie, in July.

Speaking to CNA in a recent exclusive interview, Reeves, who speaks fluent Mandarin, said he was "super happy" to return to Taiwan, the source of many good memories and one of the places where his three children grew up.

Asked about his goals for his upcoming tenure, expected to last three to four years, Reeves said he will work to strengthen already close two-way ties on various fronts, including tourism, trade, culture and education.

At the top of his list, however, will be Canadian-invested offshore wind projects -- the HaiLong II and HaiLong III -- off the coast of Changhua County that could represent Canadian investment of up to 8 billion Canadian dollars (US$6.1 billion).

"This would make it the largest single new investment from Canada into Taiwan, certainly in the clean energy space," he said of the projects undertaken in part by Canadian power group Northland Power.

Taiwan's Bureau of Energy (BOE) awarded 232 megawatts of generating capacity to the Hai Long II offshore wind farm and 512 MW to the Hai Long III offshore wind farm in June 2018 under Taiwan's offshore wind auction program.

That was in addition to the 300 MW in capacity awarded to Hai Long II by Taiwan's BOE in late April. Northland has a 60 percent stake in Hai Long II and Hai Long III, while partner Yushan Energy owns the other 40 percent.

Calling the project "highly significant," Reeves said it has raised the profile of Taiwan's business opportunities back in Canada.

"I see this as being a sort of a catalyst on the trade and investment side. So we absolutely want to see it through," he said.

That underlines Reeves' determination to build on a bilateral trade and investment relationship that is already strong.

Two-way trade grew 9 percent last year, Reeves said, and Taiwan is now Canada's 12th-largest trading partner and fifth-largest in Asia.

Travel and tourism will also be an emphasis for Canada's new representative and will be built on a foundation of strength.

Two-way exchanges have been deep-rooted for decades as there are around 60,000 Canadian passport holders in Taiwan and as many as 200,000 people of Taiwanese origin living in Canada, Reeves said, and two-way travel posted double-digit growth in 2017.

Beyond his professional responsibilities, Reeves is also hoping to create new memories to go with those he had from his last posting in Taiwan more than a decade ago.

One of those memories sticks out in his mind as an example of the hospitality of Taiwan's people.

Reeves recalled that during his previous stay here, he drove his family around Taiwan in a minivan, and they once got lost near Taichung and stopped outside a strawberry farm to study the map.

When he looked up, he was surprised to see a number of strawberry farmers walking toward them with boxes of strawberries as gifts to people they had never met.

"For me, I never forget that. To me that was always a great example of generosity, openness, hospitality of Taiwan and Taiwanese. Partly for that reason, I am very happy and excited to come back as the Canadian representative here."

Jordan Reeves / photo courtesy of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei

Learning Chinese

Reeves got the Chinese bug early while growing up in Vancouver, which has a large ethnic-Chinese community, as many of his friends were from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, he recalled.

"The (Chinese) culture and food were around me. They are part of my upbringing," he said.

That familiarity led to interest in learning the language, and he took advantage of the opportunity Global Affairs Canada gave him to take 21 months off to study Chinese full time from 2000 to 2002.

He spent most of the time learning Mandarin in Canada before being sent to Harbin (哈爾濱) in northeastern China in late 2001.

That language ability got him a job in Global Affairs Canada's China division and then his posting in Taipei.

He later served as an agriculture counsellor at the Canadian embassy in China from 2006 until 2008 and as a senior trade commissioner at the Consulate General in Shanghai from 2009 to 2011.

(By Joseph Yeh)
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