By Jennifer Taplin

John Huang is a Chinese business immigrant living in Halifax, and he’d like some company.

Huang wrote a report for the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS). In it, he said Chinese economic immigrants are important to Nova Scotia, considering our sagging population. But they’re not coming here and we need to do something about it.

“Economically, if the business immigrant investors come here, we can not only bring the investment to Atlantic Canada, but also the relationships, connections … and business opportunities to Atlantic Canada,” Huang said.

“In Chinese culture, the word relationship is very important. In Chinese it’s called guanxi. If you want to do business with Chinese companies and you don’t know them, you’ll have very little chance to do business with them.”

China, by far, provides Nova Scotia with the most immigrants, but it’s still not very many. Most Chinese business people head to Canada’s larger centres because of the larger market potential, lower unemployment rates, fewer cultural and language barriers, etc.

Huang said he picked Nova Scotia because it required a lower threshold (i.e. required investment) than other provinces. He’s now the Atlantic project manager for AIMS as well as the founder of Sino-Atlantic Inc., an import-export business.

“The immigration company who served me (in China) introduced me to the different thresholds in different provinces in Canada, which are all higher than the Nova Scotia threshold.”

He said in Nova Scotia, the threshold is $128,000.

It’s obvious the province could use more of these investors, but it’s not doing enough to attract them here, Huang said.

Among his recommendations listed in the report are: better promotion of Nova Scotia in China, building up networks of local Chinese entrepreneurs, more Chinese-speaking consultants in immigrant support organizations, and more flexible policies for business immigrants.

It would also help to appoint more than one company to be responsible for the Nova Scotia Nominee Program, Huang said. The government suspended Cornwallis Financial Corp. from running the program in June 2006.