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SEIDO Students Receive Saskatchewan's Trade Officer to China

Who knew that Saskatchewan has an official government trade office in China? The Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO), in partnership wit hthe University of Saskatchewan’s Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies, was pleased to host Mr. Richard Choi, the Saskatchewan Government Representative to the Western Trade and Investment Partnership Office in Shanghai, China, as a guest lecturer on campus.

Richard Choi first became familiar with the University of Saskatchewan after presenting a lecture to 42 UofS MBA students who visited his Shanghai office last June when Nick Kokkastamapoulos [Hanlon Director] organized a 10-day MBA International Business Study Tour to China. After learning of Richard Choi’s intended July visit to Regina for government debriefings, Kokkastamapoulos in his alternate role as SEIDO Program Coordinator invited Choi as a guest of the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program to include Saskatoon as part of his itinerary. Richard Choi accepted the invitation to provide a presentation to UofS faculty and students about his unique role and the opportunities (and challenges) for Saskatchewan-China trade. Like his speech with UofS MBA students, this subsequent lecture now geared to undergraduate commerce students, helped Mr. Choi to continue his message and to explain what it is he does for Saskatchewan. Mr. Choi explained that “the objective is to talk to as many people as possible about Saskatchewan’s presence in China and what we can do for them”.

As part of the (SEIDO) invitation, Richard Choi also received an opportunity to network with several Saskatoon-based provincial and municipal government agencies as well as local business leaders. SEIDO Student Officers helped to create the agenda. Sonja Shin, Carolyn Aziz, and Luke Coupal worked with the Kokkastamapoulos to organize a “visiting delegation” itinerary where Mr. Choi was able to learn more about what Saskatoon has to offer regarding international trade and investment. Two days of meetings saw Richard Choi introduced to His Worship Don Atchison, Mayor of Saskatoon, Tim LeClair of the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority, and Kent Smith-Windsor from the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce. Included in the itinerary was a meeting with the University of Saskatchewan’s Industrial Liaison Office, and SEIDO Student Officers also ensured that the government guest met with Canpotex, Cameco, Global Infobrokers Inc., and even a local, award winning winery with thoughts to enter the China market.

"I consider myself pretty lucky to be a SIEDO student,” said Luke Coupal. “Companies like Cameco and Canpotex are important to the Saskatchewan economy, and I don't imagine I'd have the opportunity to meet with these business leaders were it not for the exposure to these visiting dignitaries.” All three student staff were permitted to sit in on business conversations and learn how international business decisions are made. “I grew up in Shanghai" added Sonja Shin, "but watching Mr. Choi discuss the business relationship between Saskatchewan and China has given me a fresh perspective on my home country. I didn't know that Saskatchewan played as big a role in China as it does."

The Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program, with its strategic government/corporate partners, focuses on developing the international business skills for Saskatchewan university, college, and high school students. SEIDO Students when handling visiting dignitaries like Richard Choi’s receive a “trade assistant” role experience and opportunity to practice their communication and networking skills as they arrange meetings between dignitaries and some of the most influential people in the province.

“I must say that I was very impressed with the work [the SEIDO students] did. I think the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program is doing something really great for the guests, students and the university” expressed Mr. Choi.

The SEIDO Program has handled previous dignitary visits on campus, including most recently the Chinese Consul-General in Calgary, and the Brazilian Consul-General in Vancouver.

* Please note this article has been updated to reflect the new name change of the “Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program” (“SEIDO”), from its former program name as the “Saskatchewan International Trade Officer Program” (“SITO”).

The Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) allows university/college and high schools throughout Saskatchewan the opportunity build global business knowledge, related skills development, and training opportunities for a career in global business, international trade and development. For more information, please contact Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos (SEIDO Program Coordinator) at the Haultain Institute for Global Business Studies at or or by telephone at (306) 715-2260. Thank you.

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