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Ottawa, Provinces Create $20-Million Fund to Boost Atlantic Canadian ExportsWednesday, July 05, 2017 > 09:13:23
François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, was in Dubai for meetings recently and had a conversation with a senior executive of DP World, which began operating a multi-purpose container, bulk, and breakbulk terminal in Saint John earlier this year.
Champagne says the executive spoke in glowing terms about Saint John, and Canada’s investment climate in general.
“He was talking to me about his investment in Saint John, and how he saw Canada as one of the primary markets he’s looking at,” said Champagne. “This is global markets [helping] the local economy, bringing local dividends, bringing local opportunities. This is jobs for Saint John. This is good for New Brunswick. This is good for Atlantic Canada.”
The International Trade Minister cited this as an example of why expanding trade markets is good for the regional economy. His comments served as a backdrop for his announcement Wednesday afternoon at Port Saint John that the federal government, in partnership with the four Atlantic provincial governments, was investing $20-million to bolster exports in the region over the next several years.
Over the next five years, the federal and provincial governments plan to use that fund to provide Atlantic Canadian companies with competitive intelligence and market analysis, training and skills development and what they’re calling “in-market engagement activities.”
This investment – called the Atlantic Trade and Investment Growth Strategy – would not only boost exports, but attract new outside investors like DP World, said Champagne, who called himself “Canada’s Chief Marketer.”
“This is going to be making a difference in the lives of people,” Champagne told a large crowd of business leaders and politicians at the Diamond Jubilee cruise terminal. “This approach will [expand] business activities between Atlantic Canada and international markets, and strategically market the region as a whole to attract new foreign investments.”
Though the announcement was light on details about how, and when the strategy would be implemented, Champagne said they had aggressive and measurable targets for expanding international exports by 2025:
- Growing the number of exporting companies from 1,700 to 3,400.
- 40 per cent will be selling in more than one international market.
- The value of yearly exports from the region will have increased by 30 per cent, from approximately $35-billion to $45-billion.
For many of those companies, that one international market is the United States. Roger Melanson, president of Treasury Board and the minister responsible for Trade Policy, stressed the importance of having those concrete targets. He also emphasized the need to decrease our reliance on trade with the U.S.
“We need more, new businesspeople to go after new markets,” he said. “[It] is important to bring predictability and stability with our most important trade partner, the U.S…but the timing is right for diversifying our marketplace,” said Melanson.