Canada’s Resilience Makes it an Ideal Place to Invest Post-COVID-19

The Hon. Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade & Ian McKay, CEO, Invest in Canada

row of Canadian flags

The COVID-19 pandemic is teaching all of us the importance of resilience in our individual lives and as a society.

Canada’s resilience stems from a commitment to make decisions based on scientific evidence, a spirit of collaboration across orders of government, and a culture of hard work and respect for one another.

The pandemic is still with us, and it will be for some time to come. So, while our main focus needs to remain on protecting the health and safety of our citizens, we must, at the same time, work towards economic recovery and create business opportunities for global investors post-COVID.

Canada’s advantages: stability, trade agreements and a skilled workforce

Canada is the best place for new investment or expansion of existing business operations, and we have the best talent. According to the Institute for Management Development, Canada is one of the world’s 10 most competitive economies. In addition, while many countries have turned inward and introduced trade restrictions amid COVID-19, Canada continues to actively work with our international partners to maintain strong global supply chains, and promote open, rules-based trade.

The pandemic exposed risks in the predominant 21st-century business model of low-cost production and supply chains spanning the globe. According to KPMG’s 2020 CEO Outlook, two-thirds of global CEOs say they have had to rethink their approach to global supply chains. The primary drive behind this new way of thinking is the need to bring supply chains closer to the final consumer, but global companies such as those participating in the Milken Global Conference are also looking at emerging opportunities.

Amid the uncertainly of global supply chains, Canada offers investors numerous advantages: our brand, our market access, and our talent.

Our brand–Canada is an open economy and a stable democracy, with a sound banking system and a strong commitment to the rule of law.

Market access–Canada’s 14 trade agreements provide unmatched reach to over 60 per cent of the global economy and 1.5 billion customers worldwide across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Canada’s trade agreements also allow for more diversified supply chains–an important hedge against the risks associated with over-reliance on a single source for key goods.

And finally, but arguably most importantly, Canada’s talent–our highly-skilled, well-educated, and diverse workforce ensures that investors have innovative and hard-working people to deliver on their investments.
 

Canada’s supply chains present investment opportunity

Canada’s investment promotion agency, Invest in Canada, continues to provide strategic direction for investors. KPMG LLP was engaged to analyze supply chains with potential for growth emerging from COVID-19, specifically: advanced manufacturing, agri-business, and clean tech. These sectors have long contributed to Canada’s economic success, and they are already oriented toward exports so that the world can take advantage of our made-in-Canada solutions. Support for innovation and our competitive advantage in these sectors comes from several of Canada’s five Silicon Valley-like superclusters.

Advanced manufacturing includes high value-added processes and covers sectors such as automotive, aerospace, chemical, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, electronics, and plastics. As global companies consider bringing production closer to large consumer markets, Canada’s proximity to the United States provides geographically-concentrated and low-risk supply chains–ideal for new investment or expanding existing operations.

Food supply was a major concern for countries early in the pandemic. Canadian agri-businesses are already part of an integrated “farm to fork” supply chain with high levels of trust in food quality and safety–ensuring people in Canada and around the world can get the healthy food they need when they need it. The fast-growing plant protein industry is an opportunity for growth, while investments in packaging and tracing will be more important than ever in a post-COVID supply chain.

KPMG describes Canada as a “playground for clean tech,” with a wide range of investment opportunities from hydrogen to biomass. The leading opportunity for investment in clean tech is the transition of the natural resources industry to clean energy uses. Existing energy systems are ripe for transition, and cross-sectoral innovation can be of widespread benefit to many industries.

In addition to the promise offered by these three supply chains, Canada’s talent-filled life sciences sector is tremendously active in developing vaccines and therapeutics to combat COVID-19.

Through this unprecedented challenge amid the global pandemic, Canadian entrepreneurs, innovators, industry, and workers continue to show incredible resilience–adapting to reflect consumer needs and innovating through digital technology to harness the power of e-commerce. Canada will help shape this once-in-a-generation transformation of global supply chains by building a strong financial ecosystem, maintaining a welcoming environment for business growth, and strengthening rules-based trade.

This article originally appeared in the Milken Institute's Power of Ideas series.