Canada must aggressively increase our exports to and investments in emerging Asian economies, if we are to exceed expected growth rates in the short-term, Export Development Canada (EDC) President and CEO Eric Siegel said in a speech today.

“A quick comparison of projected growth rates for the next two years makes it obvious that we can no longer depend on our traditional markets,” said Mr. Siegel. “What projections are telling us is that if Canada is to exceed expectations – which currently put us in line with U.S. growth rates – we have to put our energy and resources into the areas that will give us the biggest return. I am convinced that means Asia.”

Mr. Siegel delivered his remarks at Simon Fraser University’s Segal Graduate School of Business, at an event hosted by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada to celebrate the launch of its latest Asian Investment Intentions Survey.

In his remarks, Mr. Siegel pointed out that Canada’s trade and investment patterns are still staggeringly skewed towards the U.S., while our trade penetration – the ratio of total trade to the size of the economy – is slipping.

“Canada cannot afford to waste one minute in turning those numbers around. We need to do better. Trade is the life-blood of the Canadian economy: one in three jobs in this country depends on it,” he said.

Mr. Siegel went on to outline the ways that EDC is adapting to help Canadian businesses succeed in the evolving trade environment.

“The reality of integrative trade means we need to look differently at exports: gone are the days when companies located abroad only as a means to access foreign markets without having to pay tariffs. Companies are positioning their operations wherever it makes the most business sense,” he said.

“For EDC, this evolution means looking beyond exports, to investment opportunities that open doors for us to develop investment partnerships and facilitate the entry of Canadian companies into these markets.”

Mr. Siegel concluded that the growth in disposable income and move up the value chain in emerging Asian economies present an opportunity for Canadian companies to better integrate into global supply chains, increase productivity and achieve investment returns by tying directly into the growth and wealth generation of foreign economies.

“A few years ago it was popular to talk about Asia decoupling from the rest of the world, particularly the U.S. But rather, what we are seeing is a rebalancing of Asia’s relationships with the western world. Far from ‘decoupling’ from the developed world – Asia is becoming more integrated,” he said.