Trade agreements give advantage to Canadian business
23 September 2016
Canadian businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to develop new markets across the globe, according to panellists at a City of Richmond business forum focusing on Canada’s Free Trade Agreements.
Richmond’s 5th annual Business and Partner Appreciation Event on Thursday, September 22 brought together a panel of experts on international trade, with a packed house of local business people at the Richmond Olympic Oval. In welcoming remarks, Mayor Malcolm Brodie highlighted the importance of international trade to the Richmond and Canadian economies.
“With two thirds of our country’s GDP represented by trade, it is clear that Canada is an open and trading nation,” said Brodie. “And Richmond’s strategic location on the West Coast, with our world-class trade enabling infrastructure of an international airport, port and land links, make us one of North America’s major hubs for trade and exchange—not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but all around the globe.
Scotiabank Chief Economist Jean-Francois Perrault told the audience that the time is right for local businesses to move into new international markets. Perrault indicated the worldwide economic growth will continue to be slow, but that Asian and Latin American markets will continue to outperform the Canadian and US economies. Perrault encouraged businesses to take advantage of new trade agreements and look beyond their traditional North American markets.
“Diversifying trading partners would have tremendous benefit [for business] and is the right thing to do,” said Perrault.
Meanwhile, a panel of trade experts highlighted key opportunities for Canadian business overseas. The panel included Kathleen Mackay, head of the Free Trade Agreements Task Force, Global Affairs Canada; Janel Quiring, Director of International Trade Policy for BC’s Ministry of International Trade; and Jim Moore, President and CEO of Richmond-based Stork Craft Manufacturing.
Notably, the panel said Canadian companies are gaining new advantages in international markets as Canada pushes forward with a number of international agreements that liberalize trade, while some other leading trading nations are trending toward tightening their borders.
However, while free trade agreements open markets for local business, the panel cautioned that to be competitive, businesses need to continually innovate to improve productivity and take advantage of government support programs at all levels, including the federal Trade Commissioner Service, the provincial Trade and Investment programs, and local resources such as the Richmond Economic Development Office.