The Campbell government has unveiled its latest “weapon” to pursue greatly enhanced trading ties with Asia-Pacific economies.

Premier Gordon Campbell yesterday named 11 members to the new Asia – Pacific Trade Council that will attempt to point the way to improving the business links with the burgeoning economies of the region, particularly China and India.

The group, to be chaired by Arthur Hara, former chairman of Mitsubishi Canada Ltd. and a veteran of Asia-B.C. trade, is a mix of academics and business types.

Campbell has been pushing for a new, or renewed Asia-Pacific trade strategy for B.C. for some time and says the council follows through on his desire to see closer economic ties between B.C. and Asia.

The rapid emergence of China as the world’s manufacturing powerhouse and ongoing trade conflicts with the U.S., such as the softwood-lumber impasse, is giving added impetus and urgency to the council’s work.

There is enormous potential for B.C. in the region and the “council will help us ensure we realize our full potential as a business gateway and destination,” he added.

The council will meet quarterly and is expected to create various market-advisory committees to report of specific areas of Asia-Pacific commerce. It is expected to produce its first report to Victoria early next year.

Council members are:

Charles Kim, president of Trans-Pac Fibre; Eva Lee Kwok, CEO of Amara International Investment; Brandt Louie, president of H.Y. Louie; Dr. Pitman Potter, director of UBC Institute of Asian Research; Carol Anne Lee, Linacare Cosmetherapy Inc.; Arvinder S. Bubber, chartered accountant; Andrew Saxton Jr., CEO of King George Financial Corp.; Jim Shepherd, president and CEO of Canfor Corp.; Norman Stark, president Terminal Systems Inc.; Grace Wong, assistant dean of International Programs at the University of B.C.