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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.

Sovereign Wealth Funds: A Double-Standard in Canada?

June 5th marked the closing of the three-day Canada-Asia 2013 conference, hosted by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, in Vancouver. The conference featured an array of panel discussions, plenary sessions, and networking opportunities—all focusing on how Canada should position itself with the emerging Asian economies.

During the final panel discussion, panelist Professor Khee Giap Tan posed a challenging question which, because of time constraints, was unfortunately cut short. He was critical of the double-standard between developed and developing countries with respect to Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs). He drew attention to the contradiction of how developed countries want unfettered access to markets and investment opportunities in developing countries, yet when investment flows the other way, developed countries often limit and scrutinize market access.

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Letter to Metro Vancouver RE: Air Quality Impact of New and Expanded Coal Shipment Activity in Metro Vancouver

The Business Council of British Columbia addressed written correspondence a proposed recommendations on the potential air quality impacts of new and expanded coal shipment activity in Metro Vancouver being considered by the Board of Metro Vancouver on June 14th, 2013.

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Building Stronger Relations with Asia - a Strategic Imperative for Canada

For the past 10 years the Asia Pacific Foundation has conducted a comprehensive opinion survey of Canadians to elicit their views about Asia across a variety of topics, primarily economic. With the growing importance of Asia in the global economic context and deeper trade relations developing between Canada and Asia, BC and the West in particular, this opinion research provides important insights for policy makers navigating through complex public views on economic relations with Asia.
This year's research points to some disconcerting trends for those who, believe that Canada and BC need to build closer relations with Asia and the key countries in the region. If we are to benefit significantly from the 'Asian Century,' Canada must forge constructive and more extensive economic, cultural and political linkages with Asia

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Le Nord Pour Tous: Quebec Pushing the Boundaries of Mining Development

Those familiar with mining development in Canada are all too conversant with the tricky juggling act of resource extraction. The demand for social and environmental responsibility, government royalties, and maintaining global competitiveness can all pull in different directions. Government leaders across Canada often pride themselves in having fostered a mining sector that is one of “the most efficient, effective and competitive in the world,” backed by a “world-class environmental protection regime” (Natural Resources Canada, 2013). But despite this optimistic picture, mining development in Canada is often a hotly contested policy arena. Look no further than the Federal government’s push for the rapid development of Ontario’s ‘Ring of Fire’, or the recently rejected coal mine in Comox, to get a flavour for the tug of war between vested interests.

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Finlayson: Natural resource industries critical to BC's economic success (Troy Media)

British Columbia is a province with an increasingly urban-based population whose economic success has historically been tied to the efficient extraction, processing and exporting of commodities. In 2011, approximately four-fifths of B.C.’s international merchandise exports consisted of goods produced by the forestry, energy, mining and agri-food industries taken as a group.

This proportion is little changed from 10 years ago, and it is substantially higher than the share of resource-based goods in overall Canadian merchandise exports.

Today’s heavily urban population is poorly equipped to understand the realities of B.C.’s industrial and economic base. Elected officials, media commentators, and the province’s cultural and intellectual elites disproportionately hail from the comfy precincts of the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria. Yet urban British Columbia is not where the export wealth that does so much to underpin our standard of living is mainly generated.

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British Columbia should continue to focus on Building Connections with Asia

More so than other jurisdictions in Canada, BC’s economy is being reshaped by Asia’s influence on the global stage. The sheer size of the population in the region suggests that BC should be doing everything it can to continue to leverage the economic benefits coming out of Asia.

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Finlayson: 5 reasons why a Canada/EU free trade agreement must be ratified (Troy Media)

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Coal in the Local Spotlight

The Mayor or Vancouver recently tabled a motion “to prevent the expansion of, or creation of new, coal export infrastructure within the City of Vancouver”. The Mayor of White Rock has done something similar. Vancouver’s Mayor, the Mayor of Burnaby and the Chief of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation are hosting an event in the near future aimed at rallying support to stop the proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Then there are all the various groups and campaigns that seem to spring up around election time which seem to say “no” to just about everything and “yes” to things that cost a lot money (but without any ideas about how to pay for them, e.g., the proposal for a new subway along the Broadway Corridor recently advanced by the City of Vancouver and others).

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Submission: Letter to Vancouver City Council re Coal Export Expansion Motion

The Business Council is disappointed that a majority of Vancouver Council voted to adopt the motion on March 13. This submission outlines the views summarized during the Business Council's appearance before City Council's Transportaion, Planning and Environment Committee.

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Finlayson: Canada's job machine is robust (Vancouver Sun)

Canada’s jobs machine is chugging along nicely even as the nation’s economy appears to be losing a step. Statistics Canada’s latest labour force survey reports that 51,000 jobs were created in February, far more than economic forecasters were anticipating.

On a six-month moving average basis, employment gains have been averaging 30,000 per month. The unemployment rate remained steady at seven per cent in February, as the number of labour force entrants offset the new positions created.

Drilling down into the data, private sector employment rose by 30,000 last month; since September 2012, Canadian businesses have been expanding their payrolls by 20,000 a month. By industry, job gains were concentrated in service-producing sectors, with professional, scientific and technical services and accommodation and foodservices emerging as notable hot spots. Manufacturing employment sagged and continues to trail the economy-wide job growth rate.

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Pull Back in Resource Sectors Tempers Overall Capital Investment in BC

The release of Statistics Canada's annual Public and Private Investment survey indicates that capital investment in BC is poised to edge higher in 2013. In aggregate, businesses and government plan on investing $46.9 billion on new residential and non-residential structures, industrial sites, drilling activity, machinery and equipment and all other new capital outlays this year. This represents an increase of 0.9% over 2012. Looking at only the non-residential segment, planned investment is slated to fall slightly (by 0.4%) this year. Despite the slumping housing market, BC developers who responded to the survey reported that they intend to boost residential investment spending by 3.6% this year. There is probably some downside risk to this projection given the ongoing slowdown in housing market activity.

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Presentation: From Good to Great: Nurturing Small Business Growth in British Columbia

Paper prepared for the SFU School of Public Policy and the BC Population Prosperity Initiative

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Jock Finlayson: Canada can't count on getting much of an economic lift from "abroad" (Troy Media)

As Canadian consumers and businesses gear up for 2013, they should be anxiously watching developments in the United States, Europe and Asia. Canada’s prospects over the next 12 months depend heavily on how events unfold in these regions, which account for the lion’s share of international economic activity.

Europe: Collectively, the 17 nations that comprise the eurozone, with its common currency and single monetary policy, are in recession and remain vulnerable to further flare-ups of the banking and sovereign debt crises that have plagued the region for more than two years. The biggest risks lie in Greece, Spain and Italy, which are all dealing with contracting economies and persistent worries over government debt. The United Kingdom, which is not part of the common currency but has extensive commercial linkages with the eurozone, is struggling to avoid a triple-dip recession. Since Europe as a whole drives more than one-fifth of global consumption, economic conditions there matter to other nations, including Canada.

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News Release: Business Council Supports Government Announcement and Process to Sell Ridley Terminals Inc.

The Business Council of British Columbia, representing the province’s leading companies and institutions in every key sector of the provincial economy, today announced it’s support for the federal government’s decision to sell Ridley Terminals Inc.

“The Government of Canada’s announcement to sell Ridley Terminals Inc. represents the fulfillment of a commitment to divest Crown assets that can be more fully and effectively utilized in the private sector. The decision is good news for Canadian industry and should help to grow our economy going forward,” stated Greg D'Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia. “We applaud the federal government for taking another in a series of recent steps to make Canada more competitive and to lay the foundations for future economic prosperity through global trade and investment.”

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BCBC Statement regarding Canada's decision on foreign investment

The Business Council of British Columbia today welcomes the decision by the federal government in the purchasing processes involving Nexen Inc. and Progress Energy. While we will need to review the conditions in greater detail, we believe this decision sends a positive investment signal and balances the important need for capital investment with a net-benefit framework that advances the interests of all Canadians.

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Jock Finlayson: The centre of economic gravity is tilting (Vancouver Sun)

The rise of China and other emerging economies is having a profound impact on the international economic and political order established by a handful of Western countries at the close of the Second World War. Collectively, the emerging economies of Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa will soon account for half of world production and consumption. They have also driven most of the growth in the global economy since the mid-2000s. One area where emerging economies are making a notable difference is the pattern of foreign direct investment (FDI). Long viewed solely as destinations for FDI by Western-based multinational companies, some emerging economies have become important sources of investment into the U.S. and other advanced country jurisdictions.

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Submission: 2013 Provincial Pre-Budget Submission

The Business Council of British Columbia submits preliminary advice on the 2013 provincial budget to the legislature's Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.

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A Snapshot of British Columbia's International Exports: Commodities (Still) Rule

The latest issue of the Business Council’s economic newsletter, Policy Perspectives, provides a snapshot of British Columbia’s international exports over the last decade.  Resource based products as a share of total exports have increased from 76% in 2002 to 80% in 2011.

  • Metallic minerals and energy products more than doubled their share of the composition of BC’s exports with coal, equal to one fifth of the province’s merchandise exports, being a significant contributor to the overall increase
  • The value of BC”s wood product exports dropped from $9.3 billion in 2002 to $5.7 billion last year, however with a US housing recovery and the development of new offshore markets in Asia, wood products are set to rebound in dollar terms
  • With 80% of BC’s workforce in the service industry, the export of services to international markets is often overlooked. Canada ranks among the top ten global service exports and while there are significant limitations in the available data on services trade at the provincial level, estimates suggest that this could be as high as 20-25% of BC’s international exports

Maintaining a competitive environment for investment and economic development across our key resource sectors – and primary export industries - is critical to BC’s future economic well-being.

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Business Council of BC Launches New Platform for “Next” Generation of Leaders

September 14, 2012 (Vancouver, BC) – The Business Council of BC and TELUS President and CEO Darren Entwistle today launched a unique new engagement platform called “Next” that is bringing today’s young leaders together and ensuring their perspectives are brought forward to shape the future policy and economic development conversations taking place in British Columbia. “As Generation X and Y begin to assume key leadership roles in companies and communities across BC and Western Canada, there are shifts occurring that require an active dialogue between the baby boomers still leading businesses and these Next leaders,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council. “Working with our member companies and our sponsoring corporate partners TELUS, Stantec and RBC, we have created a movement of young business people and a place for them to share fresh ideas, build knowledge and provide the mentoring and networking that supports collaboration.”

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Jock Finlayson: Everything you wanted to know about the TPP

(but were afraid to ask)

Back in June, Canada entered into talks aimed at concluding what some experts believe may eventually become the world’s most exciting modern trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Why does Canada want to be part of the TPP?

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