Sweet innovation

Infrastructure and wine seminar encourages private sector to invest in Canada

Although Canada is widely known for its wealth of natural resources, it is also becoming a hub for innovation and technology. This is in large part due to its favourable business and start-up climate.

In a January 2018 JOI magazine, issued by the Japan Institute for Overseas Investment, Canada is described as being the easiest G7 country in which to start a business, based on The World Bank Group’s statistics for 2016. Its consistent and sustained economic growth outperformed that of all other G7 countries, which include the UK, Germany and the United States

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan hosted an Infrastructure and Wine Seminar for its members at the Embassy of Canada to Japan on February 21, to showcase the benefits of investing in Canada.

Industry change

Opening the seminar, Lianne Ouellette, first secretary and trade commissioner for Investment, Energy, Natural Resources and Advanced Manufacturing for the Government of Canada, said that Canada is shifting its industry focus to science, tech­nology and innovation, across sectors such as aerospace, automotive, life sciences, IT, artificial intelligence, robotics and agri-food, making it an ideal partner for Japan.

“The government is putting a lot of new resources into attracting investment from abroad,” she said.

During her recent trip to Canada, she noted that the municipalities she visited are looking to ensure they have the right ecosystems in place for a number of sectors.

“Universities are working with the private sector, and they are both working with the government in order to provide the right conditions for businesses to thrive,” she explained.

“The message here is that Canada is a lot more than just natural resources, mountains, maple syrup, mining, and oil and gas.”

As an example, Ouellette specifically mentioned Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., which entered into partnership with the University of Toronto to establish a new research centre to bolster research and development in quantum computing. In addition, Google LLC and Facebook Inc. have invested in Canada recently for their research and development operations in artificial intelligence.

Why invest?

Although Canada has a relatively small market, with a population of 36 million, it has preferential access to both the United States and European Union markets, offering solid investor protection. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Second North America Division Deputy Director Tomonobu Sato outlined the benefits of both the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the recently signed Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Alongside these are the Canadian-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the EU, and free trade agreements with South Korea, Israel and Chile. Companies that invest in Canada will have access to all of these markets, amounting to a total of direct access to nearly 1.2 billion of the world’s consumers and a combined GDP of US$41 trillion.

Canada also offers one of the most competitive corporate tax environments in the G20, a diversified resource base, and leading-edge innovation clusters.

Honey highs

To promote the importance of Canada’s agricultural sector on a global scale, Mary Beth Takao, senior commercial officer from the Government of Alberta’s Japan office, introduced a Canadian product that has found success in Japan.

Honey wine, or mead, is now being produced in Canada’s fourth-largest province of Alberta, which offers huge potential for agriculture.

“Our crystal clear water and crisp air make it the perfect environment for producing safe and secure food products, one of which is mead,” she explained.

More than 40 per cent of honey from Canada is produced in Alberta. Honey bees that feast on canola, alfalfa and clover produce a clear, light-coloured honey, which is particularly valued by Japanese trading partners.

Spirit Hills, a winery located in southern Alberta, has carved out a place in the Japanese market with their world-renowned honey wine. It is available at high-end department stores and 5-star hotels and restaurants throughout Japan.

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