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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.

Canada-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (CSKFTA) is Good News for BC

The conclusion of the protracted negotiations to establish a free trade agreement with South Korea is a positive step for British Columbia. South Korea is the fourth largest destination for BC’s merchandise exports (after the US, China and Japan), so improved access to its market will be helpful for a number of the province’s export industries. The agreement also lays the foundation for an expansion of services trade, business travel, and investment between the two countries.

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D'Avignon: British Columbians support resource exports (Vancouver Sun)

British Columbians, as well as potential investors, are too frequently confronted by headlines declaring B.C., and Metro Vancouver more specifically, are paralyzed by conflict over natural resource exports with supposedly profound opposition to development among a majority of citizens.

Is this really the case?

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News Release: Business Council of British Columbia points to benefits of Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement

March 10, 2014 (Vancouver, BC) - The Business Council of British Columbia today welcomed the Government of Canada’s announcement that negotiations to establish a bilateral free trade agreement with South Korea have been successfully concluded.

“The federal government has worked long and hard to secure a free trade agreement with South Korea,” said Greg D'Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia.  “We applaud the Prime Minister, International Trade Minister Fast and his senior officials for their efforts to get this significant agreement over the finish line.”

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BC's High Technology Exports: A Solid Base to Grow From

British Columbia is home to an economically significant and notably diversified high technology sector. A detailed overview of the sector is presented in the most recent British Columbia’s Technology Report Card 2012. It shows that the production of advanced technology goods and services now generates 6% of the province’s GDP and accounts for approximately 80,000 jobs. While this is lower than the GDP share in some other provinces, BC’s technology sector continues to expand faster than the economy in general. And it has been resilient in the wake of the 2008-09 recession and the rather sluggish economic recovery that followed in its wake.

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Mustel Group Poll: City of Vancouver Resident's Views of Port and Exports

Mustel Group polled 500 City of Vancouver residents to determine their views with respect to Vancouver's port and specifically with respect to energy and natural resource exports. The research was conducted by a member of the Business Council of British Columbia (who wishes to be unidentified).

  • The majority of City of Vancouver residents understand the importance of Vancouver’s port to the B.C. economy, including rural communities. A total of 92% rate Vancouver’s port as ‘very’ or ‘somewhat important’ to the economy.
  • Residents are most supportive of the shipment of grain, containers, and forest products. There is also relatively strong support for export of natural gas.
  • The majority also support shipment of coal; 53% are in support, 35% are opposed, and the remaining 12% are undecided.

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Speaking Notes on the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

Speaking notes for Jock Finlayson's appearance before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade on the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

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Finlayson: Thank exports for any improvement in Canada's economic performance in 2014 (Troy Media)

After a generally lacklustre 2013, what are the prospects for Canada's economy in the coming year? As 2014 gets under way, the signs are mixed.  

In the plus column are accelerating U.S. economic growth, continued low interest rates, and the positive impact of the weaker Loonie on Canada's trade position and competitiveness.  Among the factors likely to hold our economy back in the year ahead are sluggish global commodity markets, record high Canadian household debt, government fiscal austerity at both the federal and provincial levels, and a slowdown in residential spending. 

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BC Productivity Numbers Disappoint

Statistics Canada has just released productivity estimates for 2012, and for BC the news isn’t very heartening. Labour productivity in the province’s business sector fell by 1.4% last year, after posting a solid 2.8% gain in 2011.

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What Does BC’s Triple A Credit Rating Have To Do With Dim Sum?

In a world that is riddled with debt-laden governments, BC’s comparatively low debt-to-GDP ratio and coveted triple A credit rating are increasingly being viewed as strategic advantages that can help to promote the province from a fiscal and investment perspective.

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The Location of Corporate Headquarters in a Shifting Global Business Landscape

Emerging economies now account for roughly half of world economic output (measured using purchasing-power-parity exchange rates), and their share is projected to continue growing over the next several years and beyond. As they loom larger in global markets, emerging economies are also becoming more important as centers for all kinds of businesses, including the major multinational enterprises (MNEs) that traditionally have been concentrated in a handful of mature Western economies.

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Policy Perspectives:
The Economic Benefits of Encouraging Small Businesses to Grow

The role of small businesses necessarily features prominently in any discussion of the British Columbia economy. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that an orientation toward small businesses is a defining characteristic of the province’s private sector.

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Finlayson: Vancouver not an island, economically speaking (Vancouver Sun)

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson shared his thoughts on the future of the city's economy in an address to the Vancouver Board of Trade on Oct. 16. The mayor got it partly right. He provided an update on recent economic and business developments in the city, particularly in the high-technology sector, and he emphasized the goal of making Vancouver a recognized leader in innovation.

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Release: BC Business Leaders Welcome Canada-EU Agreement

The Business Council of British Columbia today offered strong support for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that Canada has concluded with the European Union.

“After four years of negotiations, we are pleased that Canada has reached this milestone agreement-in-principle with our European partners,” stated Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia.  “CETA is good news for BC consumers and our economy, and adds momentum for Canada in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty talks that when concluded will form an important part of securing opportunity for BC and Canada in the growing Asian economy.”

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BC Agenda For Shared Prosperity Final Report

September 25, 2013 (Vancouver, BC) – The Business Council of British Columbia and the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce today released the final report of the BC Agenda for Shared Prosperity initiative. For a year, the two organizations have sought expert and community-based answers to the question: “How can BC become a more prosperous province for all British Columbians?”

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Productivity: BC's Position and Why We Should Care

Over the long term, productivity levels and growth rates are the most important factors determining the evolution of the standard of living in any economy. In more productive economies workers typically receive higher wages and governments have more resources available to pay for services.

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Finlayson: It's a mistake to ignore Japan (Troy Media)

Japan may be in a stronger financial position than some other nations with proportionately smaller government debt burdens

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D'Avignon Letter to the Editor: Mayor should embrace BC's resource industries
(Vancouver Sun)

Re: It’s not just bike lanes; city also improving economy, Letters, Aug. 2

Mayor Gregor Robertson seeks to grow our green economy and technology sectors, which we support. Technology represents an exciting growth opportunity for the region and future generations

However, the mayor ignores the role of natural resource industries as the underpinning of the economic well-being for the Lower Mainland and our province. By repeatedly attacking the coal industry, commodities sectors and the port, the mayor sends a message that the city’s economy doesn’t need natural resource or transportation industries.

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Submission: Letter to Honourable James Moore re Telecommunications Policy

Correspondence sent on behalf of the Business Council's membership on a matter of national significance, and of considerable importance to British Columbia, pertaining to telecommunications policy, and specifically the regulatory framework for the sector which recently has been under review by Industry Canada.

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Exports, Skills and Incomes

Small open economies depend heavily on trade to stimulate growth, provide employment and sustain incomes. The development of competitive export-oriented industries is particularly important for small regional economies that, by definition, aren’t able to reap the economic advantages associated with having large internal/domestic markets. British Columbia is a good case in point.

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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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