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Trade, Productivity & Competitiveness

BC’s ability to adapt to a rapidly changing world economy will depend on how well we can find new ways of doing business, adopt new ideas and practices, and connect with new trading partners. The Council encourages public policies that support research and innovation, business practices that increase productivity, connections that open new trading opportunities, and processes to commercialize BC’s best research.

RELEASE: Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Enbridge Line 3 replacement approval

The Business Council of British Columbia supports the federal government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project as announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this afternoon.

“This decision recognizes that the Trans Mountain project and Enbridge Line 3 replacement are in the national interest and that there is a place for Canadian oil in global markets, even as the world shifts toward renewable and lower carbon energy forms and cleaner technology,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia.  “Global demand for energy continues to grow and fossil fuels will be a major source of energy for decades to come. Canada’s responsibly sourced and well-regulated energy resources can play an important role in fulfilling this global demand.”

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NEWS RELEASE: Business Council of BC Welcomes Report by Commission on Tax Competitiveness

The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes the report issued today by the Commission on Tax Competitiveness that was appointed several months ago to examine the structure and impact of business taxes and to provide policy options that will support growth and job creation in BC.

At a time of sluggish global economic growth, heightened competitive pressure for small regional economies, and accelerating technological change, it makes sense to review the role of tax policy in shaping the environment for business activity.  Particularly for trade-dependent jurisdictions like British Columbia, a broadly competitive tax system is essential if we are to attract the investment and stimulate the entrepreneurial wealth creation needed to sustain jobs and grow incomes. 

“The Commission on Tax Competitiveness’s report outlines a number of valuable recommendations for the provincial government to consider, including some that we hope will be taken up in the February 2017 budget, and others that can be acted on over the medium-term,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia.  “The Business Council commends the provincial government for establishing the Commission.  We look forward to the province acting on the Commissions’ recommendations to strengthen the foundations for BC’s economic prosperity.”

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Economic silver linings for Canada in the Trump cloud (Troy Media)

Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the Presidential election, coupled with continued Republican control of both branches of the U.S. Congress, heralds significant changes in American policy in the domains of trade, immigration, foreign affairs, energy and taxation, among other areas.  Many Canadians are understandably uneasy about the direction America may take under new leadership.  At a minimum, Mr. Trump’s political ascendancy injects added stress and uncertainty into an already fragile and unsettled world.

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Peacock Op-Ed: Looking to B.C. Budget 2017 — Strengthening B.C.’s Competitive Position (Surrey Business News)

B.C.’s economy is in reasonably good shape and the province looks to be on track to lead the country in economic and job growth this year and likely next year as well. This relatively buoyant economic backdrop is boosting B.C. government revenues and providing the province with some fiscal room. The recently released First Quarterly Report shows the B.C .government with a $2 billion surplus in 2016-17, thanks mostly to upside revenue surprises from personal income taxes and the property transfer tax.

While all this is good news, the fact is that British Columbia’s competitiveness within North America has eroded over the past several years. The extent of the problem varies across sectors and industries. But companies operating on the land base, manufacturers, and industries that rely significantly on energy to run their operations face mounting difficulties stemming from complex First Nations claims, onerous permitting and environmental rules, and high and still rising tax-inclusive energy costs. Across the province, the forestry, mining, and oil and gas industries are at the forefront of these challenges. Closer to home, in Surrey the agriculture industry and local manufacturers (lumber mills, parts of food processing, industrial equipment, high-tech) are all also challenged by B.C.’s deteriorating competitive position.

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: B.C. tax regime hurts new investment in equipment, technology (Business in Vancouver)

While B.C. has recently posted some impressive economic numbers compared with the rest of the country, in a few areas we continue to underperform. The most glaring example is non-residential business investment.

Investment in “tangible” capital, such as machinery, equipment, structures, advanced technology products and engineering infrastructure, is essential to a thriving business sector. Increasingly, investment in “intangible” forms of capital, such as research and development, patents, trademarks, business processes and employee training, is also becoming a key ingredient in business success. Both kinds of capital contribute directly to economic growth and job creation in the short term. And with time, the benefits of such investments are magnified. Expanding and improving the stock of capital means that employees have up-to-date machinery and equipment, modern facilities, more efficient infrastructure and better intellectual property products to work with, allowing them to become more productive (and, hopefully, to earn more). 

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The Trump Presidency: Three Possible Silver Linings for Canada

For British Columbia and Canada generally, there are economic downsides and upsides from the new political order that’s about to take shape in Washington, D.C.

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Woodfibre LNG: Unlocking BC’s Natural Gas Assets

Statement from BCBC on the authorization of the Woodfibre LNG project

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Diverse and Growing: BC's Agriculture Industry on the Rise

BC's agri-food industry has enjoyed strong growth in recent years.

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Peacock Op-ed: B.C.'s Comparatively Good Economic Performance Should Not Foster Complacency (Surrey Business News)

The provincial economy is in good shape, supported by gains in parts of the export sector, impressive job growth, robust consumer spending and a booming housing market. In fact, B.C. is positioned to outpace all provinces in economic growth this year, and perhaps in 2017 as well. While this is an enviable position to be in, it should not breed complacency. Policy makers need to pay attention to competitiveness and step up efforts to make B.C. an attractive place for companies to invest and create well-paying jobs.

One reason for staying cautious is because B.C.’s ascent to the top of the provincial growth rankings is partly explained by the fact that Canada’s previous growth stars – Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland – have all been hit hard by the collapse in oil prices. Although B.C. is set to lead the country, we will do so with a very typical or average rate of economic growth compared to what the province has experienced over the past two decades.

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Growing More Significant-Scale Firms: An Important Innovation Goal for BC

In our new paper, “Innovation for Jobs and Productivity,” the Business Council argues that innovation is the key to creating and sustaining more high-productivity, high-wage jobs in the province.

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New Regional Effort Aims to Establish Cascadia Innovation Corridor

British Columbia and Washington leaders come together to strengthen collaboration, create cross-border opportunity

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Innovation for Jobs and Productivity:
Fostering High-Growth BC Businesses, Creating More High-Paying Jobs

How can British Columbia draw on its strengths to build a vibrant, diverse economy, one that produces rewarding employment opportunities and rising incomes for the people who work and do business here? Scholars and leading international organizations agree that the best route to sustained prosperity is by developing a highly productive economy.

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PRESENTATION: Aboriginal Economic Development & Prosperity Forum

Our Economic Prospects in a Slow-Growth World as presented by Jock Finlayson and Ken Peacock at the Aboriginal Economic Development and Prosperity Forum. 

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Finlayson Op-Ed: How Canada can put its economy back in gear (Troy Media & The Province Newspaper)

“Building an economy that works for the middle class” is the preferred mantra of the Trudeau government now ensconced in Ottawa.  Rarely these days does one encounter a federal government news release that fails to tout the benefits of a thriving middle class.  The term “middle class” itself, however, is never defined, making it difficult to know if progress is being made in delivering on what the government describes as its most important objective. 

On at least some measures, the middle class in Canada actually looks to be doing reasonably well.  Take incomes, for example.  From 2010 to 2014, the total pre-tax income of the typical family – defined, statistically, as the “median” family consisting of two or more related persons – rose from $80,900 to $87,000, in constant 2014 dollars.  This amounts to an increase (after inflation) of 7.5 per cent over four years – a decent gain. 

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SPEAKING NOTES: Trans Mountain Ministerial Panel Review Economic Roundtable

Greg D'Avignon's presentation to the Trans Mountain Ministerial Review Economic Roundtable on August 16, 2016

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Business input vital to immigration system’s economic success (Business in Vancouver)

There are currently 4.7 million people living in B.C. Over the past 20 years, our population has risen by 908,000. Back in 1995, the population was growing at an annual rate of 2.8%, based on strong net interprovincial migration, international migration, and a relatively high rate of natural increase (births minus deaths). Now, the population is increasing by 1% annually, which is higher than the Canadian average but slower than in decades past.

In the next 20 years, our population is projected to expand by 1.14 million. Natural population growth dwindles after 2015 and approaches zero by 2030. At that point, B.C.’s population will be rising solely due to net in-migration from other provinces and countries. Of the two sources of in-migrants, international immigration will have a bigger role in determining B.C.’s demographic and economic future. Thus, it is more important than ever that immigration policy is aligned with our economic needs. Unfortunately, based on some initial actions by the Justin Trudeau government, it appears that economic considerations will carry less weight in immigration decisions.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Green energy future a long way off (Troy Media and The Province)

Some Canadian environmental groups claim the world is in the midst of a dramatic move toward carbon-free forms of energy.  The implication is that Canada – one of the world’s largest producers of oil and natural gas – should quickly abandon the fossil fuel economy and quickly embrace renewable energy as the only pathway to a prosperous future.  

Important shifts in energy production and consumption patterns are undoubtedly underway.  However, the timing of any overall global energy revolution is likely to be considerably slower than many believe.  Rising global energy demand, and the tens of trillions of dollars of embedded capital that underpin current energy production and consumption systems, are among the factors that stand in the way of rapid change.

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Commissioned Paper: Fiscal Options for Building a Prosperous British Columbia - By Kevin Milligan

BCBC commissioned an independent review of the efficiency, effectiveness and fairness of British Columbia’s current tax system, and potential policy approaches to modernize the system in the context of today's economic realities. The Milligan paper notes that BC faces two key fiscal challenges: generating the government revenues needed to fund public programs and services going forward, and ensuring a healthy level of investment and business growth to sustain a strong economy.

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D'Avignon Op-Ed: Trade deals, infrastructure, national climate framework key for B.C. business (The Hill Times)

Today, some 40 business, First Nations, and community leaders from British Columbia are in Ottawa. Here’s how we can work together with the federal government.

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The Importance of Raising Narwhals

Canada’s lacklustre ability to produce high-growth firms is concerning. This should be a foremost concern for policymakers, especially in light of recent gains in access to capital.

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