Entries in Canadian Chamber of Commerce (15)

Friday
Nov142014

CCC: Is China Slowing Down or Charging Ahead?

In recent weeks, we’ve seen many stories in the media about a major slowdown in China. As Canada’s second largest trading partner with $70 billion per year in bilateral trade, it could have a big impact here at home. Should we be worried or is China charging ahead?

Official figures show China growing at around 7.3%, a decline when you consider that for the 20 years up to 2007, the country’s average real GDP was rising by an average of 11% per year. But that’s OK. China’s economy is now US$9 trillion, so that 7.5% increase is on a much larger pie and is a much bigger boost to the global economy. The growth is also more balanced, shifting away from investment and export dependence towards a more broad-based expansion of consumption, thanks to rising wages.

Are there vulnerabilities in China? Certainly, China has high debt levels, but the banks are well capitalized and with $4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, there is more than enough of a safety cushion to weather any downturn. China also has soaring real estate prices and areas that are overbuilt. But don’t forget that two million people per month move from rural areas to the cities.

This means that China has to add the equivalent of three New York Cities every year to keep up with the rise in urban dwellers. China’s government has been trying to clamp down on rising home prices by raising mortgage rates and downpayment requirements, although they’ve eased off recently.

A consumer revolution is underway.

So what does it all mean for business? China’s economy is changing dramatically but growth will remain over 7% for the foreseeable future. More importantly a consumer revolution is underway. Each year, almost 30 million people, a population roughly the size of Canada, join the Chinese middle class. And they love to spend online.

In 2013, China surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest ecommerce market. By 2015, KPMG is forecasting that China’s ecommerce transactions could reach USD 540 billion, roughly 10% of total retail transactions. By 2020, the firm estimates that China’s ecommerce market will be larger than those of the U.S., Britain, Japan, Germany and France combined.

Here at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, we’ve been lobbying hard to establish a renminbi trading hub right here in Canada to make it easier to do business in China’s currency. Last week in Hangzhou, our President, Perrin Beatty, and the Prime Minister of Canada met with Jack Ma, the head of Alibaba, to talk about boosting trade.

What is Alibaba? It’s only the world’s largest ecommerce company, roughly twice the size of Amazon. Alibaba’s transactions last year totaled nearly $250 billion, compared with $116 billion for Amazon. Every second, Alibaba handles an average of 500 orders, worth more than $9,000. Ecommerce is the best way to penetrate the Chinese consumer market because it’s more developed and trusted than the traditional bricks and mortar retail networks. Mr. Ma often says that “in the U.S., ecommerce is dessert. But in China, it’s the main  course.”

It’s time to feast. Canadian companies looking to list their products on Alibaba should click here. 

For more information, please contact : Hendrik Brakel, Senior Director, Economic, Financial & Tax Policy, 613.238.4000 (284) | hbrakel@chamber.ca 

 

Thursday
Oct162014

How the Chamber of Commerce drives change

One of the core activities of the Chamber is to be a voice for the business community.   This is true in our communities of the City and County of Peterborough, and at the provincial and federal levels.  This is a quick snapshot of how we can drive change – and why there’s nothing wrong with staying in the middle lane, as long as we are aware that we may need to change lanes.  

When we talk about change in the chamber world it is more often associated with a regulation, by-law or  policy that currently exists or has been brought in by the municipality, provincial or federal government. Not only do we ask for changes to existing policies, but by expressing the business community’s voice on certain themes we can also set the tone for developing policy.

The Chamber’s policy committee, one of the largest chamber committees, meets once a month and is made up of volunteers from the membership as well as appointees from our MP and MPPs offices and Peterborough Economic Development.  This group discusses any pressing issues and makes decisions on how to proceed on a given issue.  This can range from conducting a survey to issuing a media release to writing a letter to completing more research on a given topic to developing a policy resolution containing specific recommendations to government.

There are several keys to change including information gathering, expressing the business community point of view and providing solutions.   

The Chamber has the opportunity to speak as one voice for its over 900  members.   We talk to politicians and staff about the change the business community would like to see.   We use the information you give us through Chamber surveys, approved policy resolutions, and conversations about concerns affecting your business.  We also write articles and letters expressing your views.  

A few recent examples of advocacy at work:  

Locally: Louis Street Park – a survey of our members identified that Louis Street was the preferred spot for an urban park.  The Chamber sent a letter and the survey to City Hall as well as issued a media release.  When it was approved another letter was sent reminding council of the business community’s position. The letter also asked that council consider putting something tangible at the park site (ie. trees or a sign that features the design) and that the completion date of the project be moved up as much as possible. 

Provincially: The Pension Day of Advocacy.  A day set aside where 50 plus chambers from across the province were speaking as one about their concerns on the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.   This was a high point in the advocacy on this issue, but not the beginning.  Pension reform was identified about a year ago as an area of concern.  Questions around it were part of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s yearly survey Emerging Stronger, and it was a part of the business community platform during the provincial election.   Since the government announced it was moving forward with the program in late June, the chamber network has written a letter to the Minister, participated in a conference call and the day of advocacy.  The end goal is to be part of a workable solution for the business community.  

Federally:   Chamber President Stu Harrison, Incoming Chair Pat Marren and I recently attended the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM.  The main reason for the AGM is to set the federal policy agenda so CCC policy staff can lobby the federal government. We accomplished this by passing some 65 policy resolutions and recommendations on a variety of issues, from innovation to labour mobility to labour market information to tax deductions for small business.  The goal is to encourage, through recommendations from the business community changes that can improve the business climate. 

What is a policy win?  A win can come in many forms when it comes to driving change.  It can be a seat at the table, it can be having a policy resolution passed at the provincial and federal levels, or the ultimate is a change in legislation.  

Through the Chamber Peterborough business successfully championed for an eight year commitment by the City of Peterborough to reduce the commercial and industrial tax ratios to between 1.5% and 1.8% of residential levels.   We put Louis Street back on the map as an urban park location with the city.  One health care policy, championed by Peterborough, has successfully led to pharmacists being able to administer flu shots in the Province of Ontario.  

At the CCC AGM, there was a session on “Effective Lobbying.”  The main takeaways from that session were:  

There is no one road to driving change.  One experience can be smooth sailing on new pavement and the next like working your way through a traffic jam. 

You have to manage how far your tank of gas will take you.  The Chamber has to carefully utilize the resources at hand from prioritizing issues to accepting feedback and cultivating relationships.  This is why the chamber is deliberately non-partisan during election campaigns and chooses to focus on the issues rather than candidates, because no matter whom is elected, as a lobby group for business we will have to work with them. 

We are not and cannot drive alone.  Change requires carpooling - bringing together our resources and knowledge to present a solid and factual case for change.  This does not happen in isolation and we are more effective working together. The stronger our membership, the more horesepower we have.

Read the Policy Report Card, which can be found at peterboroughchamber.ca  

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber” group of LinkedIn. 

Wednesday
Oct012014

Peterborough Chamber helps set federal policy agenda for business

Incoming 2015 Board Chair Pat Marren of Glenn Windrem Trucking (right) and Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Stuart Harrison voting during the policy plenary at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting in Charlottetown, PEI. 

The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and delegates from chambers across the country debated 72 policy resolutions.  Those that were carried become part of the federal policy agenda for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC).  

Along with a dozen other Ontario Chambers, the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce lent its direct support to a policy resolution calling on the government to undertake an expedient review of the full impact that competitor jurisdictions' business attraction efforts are having on Canada's economy.  This would be done in co-ordination with businesses and chambers of commerce from across Canada and examine the impact in terms of both GDP losses and job losses.

"This is what we call the Parliament of Business," explains Stuart Harrison, Chamber President & CEO. "By discussing these issues and voting on policy resolutions chambers across the country collectively begin to speak with one very strong voice."

What this means for our members: 

The CCC will present the policies to federal government officials, meet with representatives and make known the position of local chambers on issues important to the business community.

At the 2014 AGM those asks were: 

  • improving the innovation climate through tax incentives and revising current programs to help SMEs and larger innovators
  • improving labour market information availability
  • removing interprovincial trade barriers
  • investigating the importance of effective child care in relation to number of spaces and cost
  • improving the newly-redesigned Temporary Foreign Worker Program
  • improving productivity for Canadian companies through tax incentives, subsidies and grants
  • improving some of the requirements for business to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) 
 

 

Thursday
Sep252014

Taking care of the "Parliament of Business"

As chambers come together in the home of Confederation, Charlottetown, PEI for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM, they will not only reconnect but participate in spirited debate and development of policy resolutions. The delegates are aware of the ability of our Founding Fathers to look beyond their own borders to see the possibility and strength of Canada as a whole. 

The core purpose of a chamber is to improve the business community within our own municipalities, regions, provinces, territories and country. It is a privilege to be part of this process. The purpose of this meeting is not to pit one part of the country against another, but to develop solid policy resolutions for the greater good of the entire nation. If the past years have taught us anything, it’s that moving forward as one is much more powerful than going it alone. Ideas and policies developed in various corners of Canada must become our collective policies, ones that we as a group stand behind, promote and use at any given opportunity to foster discussion. 

We can be the best wordsmiths, the best researchers, and the best at debating amongst ourselves, but if our voice isn’t strong enough or isn’t used at all then our efforts for change will fall short. Trade, export/import, hydro rates, minimum wage, taxes, red tape, start-up 

capital, EI, pension plans, pressure from the United States, the dollar - any business in Canada, from the smallest to the largest, can add commentary to any of these issues. Currently, there are chamber network policy resolutions being presented to provincial governments on these issues and now we will be setting the agenda to move forward at the federal level. Lobbying for a welcoming and investment-worthy business climate that creates jobs and encourages business expansion in each province and territory makes for a strong Canada. It is also a way for business to give back to its home communities. 

The obligation of conference delegates is to ensure the chamber network and its push for policy improvement continues to matter. It is in this way that we write the script that becomes the Voice of Business for Canada. 

This is what Peterborough Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Stuart Harrison, volunteer in-coming Board Chair Pat Marren and myself will be partaking in come this weekend at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM in Charlottetown, PEI. 

It’s fitting that this process is happening in PEI as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference. That meeting of 23 delegates from the Maritime Provinces and the Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec) was where the concept of confederation was formed. Canada would become a nation less than three years later on July 1, 1867 (http:// pei2014.ca/history_pg1). 

It's also a significant anniversary for the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce that is celebrating its 125th Anniversary in Peterborough. "The Chamber has been supporting the business community since 1889 with one core business," explains Bob Doornenbal, 2014 Board Chair and Director Franchise Sales & Marketing, Driving Miss Daisy. "That has been turned into our Vision Statement - Channeling the collective strength of the business community." 

In part, that is done through the policy process. This year, 69 policy resolutions and at least double that in the number of actionable recommendations to the federal government will be on the floor. Topics for the "Parliament of Business" include Finance and Taxation (16), Transportation and Infrastructure (10), Environment and Natural Resources (8), Human Resources (15), Industry (7), International Affairs (9), and Special Issues (4). 

From the list of 69 resolutions here are nine that standout: 

  1. Small Business Deductions 
  2. Ensuring Viability and Safety in Our National Airport System 
  3. A Climate Change Adaption Strategy for Canada 
  4. Temporary Foreign Worker and Skills Gap issues 
  5. Innovation Box Regime for Canada and Technovation: a shift in philosophy, an investment in Canada’s future 
  6. Recognizing and devising strategies to counteract the generous incentives offered by competitor jurisdictions 
  7. Improving regulatory processes to support the growth of Agri-business 
  8. Leveraging CETA to eliminate interprovincial trade barriers 
  9. Reforming Canada’s Child Care Plan 
  10. Reinstate the Canadian mandatory long-form census 

Policies are made through government legislation and are the framework within which business must operate. We are constantly striving for good, effective policy that makes being in business easier. It’s not an easy subject to wade through on your own, but as part of the Chamber network your business has a champion. 

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber” group of LinkedIn. 

Thursday
Sep112014

A funny thing happened on the way to a trade agreement

As Canada negotiates the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, it is also setting, consciously or subconsciously a framework that has the potential to improve trade barriers between this country’s provinces and territories. 

Internal trade barriers have been a concern for many years by many groups, including local chambers such as the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, provincial chambers such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Chamber Network’s federal arm the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

At the provincial level, delegates at the OCC’s Annual General Meeting in May voted in favour of a policy resolution called “Eliminating Inter-Provincial Trade Barriers before CETA takes effect.” 

As explicit tariffs between provinces are forbidden under section 121 of the Constitution Act of 1867, most interprovincial barriers are the result of differing rules, regulations, licensing requirements and regional programs. These barriers to internal trade are often enforced by provincial legislation in attempts to protect local interests (OCC Policy Resolution, 2014). 

The resolution asks the provincial government to: 

 

  • Pursue trade liberalizing agreements with other Canadian jurisdictions through the use of Article 1800 of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), that allows interested parties to move forward when consensus is not possible. 
  • Encourage all the parties of the AIT to conduct a full review and renegotiation of that agreement in order to eliminate barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility by 2015. A new agreement should: Cover all sections of the economy including ministries, crown corporations and regional and local governments. 
  • Institute a dispute resolution mechanism that includes access to a panel with binding and enforceable powers and contain significant fines for non-compliance. 

 

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has identified internal trade barriers as one of the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness. “Over the years, we have been calling on the government to significantly improve the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT),” says Perrin Beatty, President & CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce in a recent blog. “We are encouraged that the federal government is now committed to eliminating remaining barriers to internal trade—an issue that has been costing Canadian companies billions of dollars over the years. We are ready to work with the various levels of governments to advance this issue and improve the competitiveness of the Canadian economy.” 

The Voice of Business continues to ring loud and clear as the CCC and a number of provincial chambers including the OCC wrote a letter to the Premiers. The letter was sent before the Premiers met in PEI recently. 

“While Canada faces many economic and social challenges, we believe that there is one issue that must be given significant attention by our governments: the removal of barriers to internal trade and mobility. 

Internal trade barriers continue to impede the free movement of people and goods between Canada’s provinces. Such barriers often arise as a result of minor differences in standards, certifications or regulations. The red tape that these differences impose on businesses and the economic toll they place on our competitiveness have become intolerable. 

The Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) was negotiated twenty years ago and does not respond to today’s economic and commercial realities. While there have been some helpful changes over the years - in particular to the chapter on labour mobility- the agreement as currently written no longer does our economy justice. 

As Canada continues to remove the barriers between our country and the rest of the world, it is time to make the creation of an integrated, efficient Canadian economy a priority. In particular, as we move closer to a final agreement with the European Union, we run the risk of having a more open trading relationship with Europe than we have internally. How can we expect our businesses to be able to compete with the twenty-eight countries in the European Union if they are unable to efficiently access markets closer to home? 

The costs imposed by these internal barriers limit consumer choice, complicate unnecessarily the process for Canadians wanting to work in other regions of Canada, and impose a multi-billion dollar drag on Canada’s economy. These costs are being recognised both here at home and, increasingly, abroad. For example, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently urged Canadian governments to harmonize certification requirements for apprenticeship programs as a means to improve interprovincial mobility. 

We urgently call on you and the federal government to adopt a renewed commitment to break down the remaining barriers to internal trade and mobility in Canada. We believe that all of Canada’s governments should strive for a more modern agreement on internal trade. At a minimum, the existing agreement should be strengthened and updated to reflect the realities of our modern, trade dependent economy, with the onus being placed on those proposing impediments to the ability to do business throughout Canada to justify these barriers and with the ability to resolve disputes in a timely manner. 

Together, our network of Chambers of Commerce is comprised of more than 450 local chambers of commerce and boards of trade representing more than 200,000 businesses and industry associations of all sizes and sectors in every region of Canada. We wish you every success as you prepare for your important deliberations and we stand ready to work with you and the Government of Canada to create an efficient and competitive Canadian economy.” 

Not only is there a cohesive attitude amongst the Chamber Network in Canada, but the letter and follow-up discussion at the Premiers meeting in PEI may be “very good news, if they mean what they say,” says Beatty in his blog. “For years, Canadian businesses have struggled to navigate the complex system of differing rules, regulations and standards. These minor differences increase costs, reduce our efficiency and warn foreign investors away from our country.” 

It also appears the government of Canada is truly taking notice and has issued One Canada, One National Economy: Modernizing Internal Trade in Canada. “Persistent barriers to internal trade, including regulatory differences, inconsistent standards, and restrictions on the free movement of people, goods and services, fragment our economy and put Canadian firms at a disadvantage,” James Moore, Minister of Industry. “The result is a weaker Canadian economy, lost jobs, and a less united Canada.” 

The proposal examines two ways Canada can develop a solution to the problem:  

  • Option One: Focus on priority areas for improvement 
  • Option Two: Completely redesign the internal trade framework for Canada  

The report concludes with a promise to Canadians and Canadian business: 

“These two pathways are each legitimate and viable routes to a renewed AIT and a stronger Canadian economy. They form a sound basis on which to move forward and represent approaches we can pursue over time to achieve meaningful outcomes. Going forward, the Government of Canada is committed to working with provinces and territories to forge agreement on a path forward and begin the essential work of renewing internal trade to the benefit of all Canadians.” 

With the business community, the province and the federal government having an eye to reform, the time is now to get it done. 

**More about the Industry Canada proposal can be found at:
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/081.nsf/ eng/00001.html 

To comment on this article please go to the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

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