Canada’s Economic Edge

Posted by Tom Locke on November 28th, 2009 filed in Business, General, History, Life

Earlier this week I received a copy of a paper released by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.  The paper summarized the Economic Edge ’09 business event held in Toronto on Oct 21, 2009.

Some of the key messages in this report were: 

  1. During the economic crisis, the Canadian economy was partially insulated from the shocks experienced in other developed nations by a financial sector that is stronger than any other in the world. While many businesses experienced problems accessing financing, bank credit growth held up well, and financial strains were markedly less serious than elsewhere. Additionally, Canada entered the economic downturn with 11 years of federal budgetary surpluses (and virtually all provinces/territories in a surplus position) giving us a f exibility that other countries lacked. As a result, Canada is coming out of recession with significant advantages. However, the world into which we are emerging is very different from the one we knew before the downturn. The global economic landscape has fundamentally changed, and the ramifications for the business
    community are significant.
  2. Canadian exporters and companies doing business in the U.S. will face intense competition in the U.S. market, and constrained demand for their goods and services. Canadian businesses must seek out and capitalize on new opportunities in other regions of the world.
  3. As emerging-market economies ascend, Canadian businesses must push the frontiers of international commerce – diversify export markets, cultivate a network of relationships with international business partners, and forge technology partnerships. The federal government can be an important partner by providing business services, trade policy instruments, market intelligence, risk analysis, local knowledge and expertise. “SMEs also need to address the challenges and opportunities of emerging markets, either directly
    or as players in large value chains that include emerging market partners; their future growth, if not survival, depends on this.”
  4. The resurgence of protectionism is very real. Canada’s governments and businesses must be strong advocates for a rules-based trading system, further market liberalization, and reduced barrier to foreign investment. The Competition Policy Review Panel “subscribes to the widely held view that Canada benefits from openness to the world and that attracting greater foreign investment is in Canada’s economic interest.”

Finally, one quote found in the paper that really resonated with me were the remarks Gordon Nixon, President & Chief Executive Officer, Royal Bank of Canada, made recently to the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).  He said, “If Canada is to maintain and improve its standard of living, we must become the destination of choice for skilled immigrants, scientists, professionals and entrepreneurs. We must also do a better job of leveraging the diversity of our current and future workforce. If we do, we will have an unrivalled advantage. If we don’t, we will face an uphill battle just to maintain our current competitiveness.”

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