Economic development executives from 12 of Canada’s major cities intend to harness collaborative innovation to hit the road and attract new investors to Canada
OTTAWA, ON, FEB. 4, 2014 – It’s not your father’s economic development strategy. While many large cities in the same country fight it out for investment dollars on foreign turf, the members of the Consider Canada City Alliance that represents 59% of the country’s GDP have opted to join forces. They intend to get ahead of the curve on investment opportunities brought on by the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, and the massive potential of Asian markets.
This approach, dubbed “collaborative innovation”, coincides with Canada sweeping past the U.S., Germany and Japan in a Bloomberg ranking of The Best Countries for Business in 2014. Canada rose four places to reach second place, behind only Hong Kong, which led for a third straight year.
“The simple fact is that most investment decisions are made on a city-to-city basis,” said Michael Darch, founding President of the Consider Canada City Alliance Inc. “But Canada’s major cities realize that in global terms, we need global scale. For example, Chongqing is China’s largest city with a population in excess of 33 million – a difficult number for many Canadians to grasp. Chongqing’s population rivals the population of our entire country, and underlines why “large” Canadian cities must coordinate and collaborate together – versus attempt to compete with each other – to attract investment from around the world.”
Attending their Annual General Meeting in Ottawa this week, economic development agency executives from Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Québec City, Winnipeg, Waterloo Region, London and Saskatoon are planning cooperative investment missions to at least six major cities in Europe and Asia in 2014. The London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) is the newest member of the Consider Canada City Alliance.
Over two days, alliance members will receive briefings from at least one Federal Minister, foreign ambassadors, and economic development partners from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development’s Invest in Canada division.
“In the past year we’ve seen a doubling of Web traffic to our trilingual (English, French and Mandarin) Web site, www.considercanada.com,” said Darch. “And our investment missions to China and across the EU produced 375 investment meetings in European cities and 250 meetings in Chinese cities with organizations ranging from multi-billion-dollar sovereign wealth funds to owner-entrepreneurs who want to set up a division or an entirely new company in one or more Canadian cities.”
As well as hitting the road to meet investors in cities that are the world’s economic beacons – including Amsterdam, Madrid, Milan, Hong Kong, Shēnzhèn and Beijing – the Consider Canada City Alliance approach to collaborative innovation also helped attract major investment delegations in the past year.
From Oct. 14-18, the Italian Embassy in Canada in partnership with Confidustria, Italy’s largest business organization, and the Italian Trade Commission, brought over 40 companies and 70 representatives to visit Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. They were seeking opportunities and partnerships in infrastructure, clean technology and oil and gas. In July, the Consider Canada City Alliance helped organize one of the largest-ever meetings of Chinese and Canadian business executives. For their first visit to Canada, representatives from the key Chinese government agency for outward-bound investment, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), visited Calgary on their only Canadian stop. The delegation’s visit was a direct result of the Consider Canada City Alliance’s three-city trade mission to China in April of 2013.
The Consider Canada City Alliance’s 2014 investment missions will further capitalize on opportunities in Europe and Asia. In the EU, Canada’s largest trade deal ever, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), could boost bilateral trade between Canada and the EU by 23%, or $37.7 billion. And while many Asian markets beckon, still unknown to many Canadians is the fact that China is set to eclipse the United States as the world’s largest economy within three years according to the OECD and IMF. China has already surpassed the US as the world's biggest trader in goods for the first time last year based on total imports and exports.
“China’s Outward Foreign Direct Investment (OFDI) increased from $1.0 billion in 2000 to $88 billion in 2012, making it the world’s third largest source of OFDI,” said Darch. “The Economist has noted that Canada was the third largest recipient of OFDI from China in the period 2005-2012. In March of 2013, KPMG released a report released a report that showed Canada was the lead country in the world for Chinese outward bound direct investment.”
“But we can’t rest on our laurels,” cautioned Darch. “It was a massive $15 billion purchase by Chinese oil giant CNOOC of Nexen Inc. that propelled Canada into the number one spot for Chinese investment. While China is Canada’s second-largest trading partner after the United States, Canada is not even in China’s top ten. That’s why city-to-city interactions matter. It’s where the action is, and where large-scale investments are sparked. In 2014, we intend to get more than our fair share.”
Darch emphasized that last November the Federal government’s Global Markets Action Plan identified China as a priority market, along with a significant foreign policy shift towards economic diplomacy described by International Trade Minister Ed Fast as a “sea change in the way Canada’s diplomatic assets are deployed around the world.” That sea change is very supportive of Consider Canada City Alliance initiatives, and includes ensuring that diplomatic resources “are harnessed to support the pursuit of commercial success”.
About the Consider Canada City Alliance
Formally incorporated in 2012, the 12 member cities of the Consider Canada City Alliance represent approximately 54% of Canada’s population, 56% of Canada’s employment, 59% of its GDP, and between 2007 and 2012, 72% of GDP growth and 90% of jobs growth. As a united front, Canada’s large cities – Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Québec City, Winnipeg, Waterloo Region, London and Saskatoon – help international companies determine the best strategies for business expansion and continually improve Canada’s ability to attract new investment and trade opportunities. For more information on the Consider Canada City Alliance, please go to www.considercanada.com or www.canadaentete.com.