Monday, February 18th marks the beginning of Chamber of Commerce Week 2013. Chamber Week brings awareness to the important work these organizations do to stimulate local economies, promote their community, and engage in multi-level advocacy which benefits the entire province. No other business organization can match this incredible network that stretches across the country.
With the recently released Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness for 2013, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has identified the main factors which are holding back Canada’s economic progress and ability to compete globally.
Chambers of Commerce around the province, including the BC Chamber, have been very active recently in this area, and are a big part of the solution.
The network of Chambers of Commerce across BC is the most influential business organization in the province. As the key representatives of their business community to government, Chambers actively listen to business needs and continually articulate them to government at all levels.
Chambers of Commerce support businesses through benefit programs, services and education. Being community based means that Chambers are funded entirely by their members, events and sponsorship. This community investment is what drives Chambers of Commerce to directly support and stimulate local economies, and work collaboratively to create vibrant communities around the province.
Governments and businesses across regions and sectors will need to work cooperatively and aggressively to address this ubiquitous issue, particularly in four key areas: upskilling, immigration policies, education-employment alignment and Aboriginal education and
Barriers to world markets for Canadian energy products
The overseas market will be of critical economic importance to Canada in the 21st century. Federal, territorial and provincial governments must act now to support the development of the infrastructure and relationships needed to realize the full potential of Canada’s energy endowment, or risk missing out on a historic opportunity.
Inadequate workforce productivity
Improved trends in business investment in productivity-enhancing technologies and equipment are encouraging but still leave Canada underperforming relative to its competitors. To improve its productivity, Canada must leverage advanced technologies and efficient infrastructure, support efforts to raise literacy and numeracy levels among workers and ensure its EI program is not a disincentive to work.
Inadequate public infrastructure planning
Government commitments to infrastructure have been intermittent and the criteria changeable, making private sector investment difficult and expensive. Mobilizing private investment to finance public goals is essential for infrastructure development.
Tax complexity and structure
Canada’s tax system over-relies on income and profit taxes, the most economically damaging forms of taxation. Canada’s tax system is also overly complex and, as a result, imposes unnecessary and significant compliance and administration costs on businesses and consumers. Canada must create a simple, fair and growth-oriented tax system.
Poor innovation performance
Canada lacks a definitive innovation strategy that brings coherence to the many government policies and programs affecting private research, academic research and commercialization. A clear approach that leads to action is urgently needed. Poor innovation leaves Canadian business vulnerable to competitors and to changing economic conditions.
Deficient strategies for trade success in new markets
Canada’s competitiveness is constrained by a focus on slow-growing, traditional markets. Canada must reduce its dependency upon its usual trading partners and expand its access to new markets in Asia, Africa and South America. Legal access to these markets is but the first step. Canada needs to construct trade strategies that will turn access into success.
Internal barriers to trade
Canada is still far from being a barrier-free internal market. Internal trade barriers cost our economy up to $14 billion each year. Canadian business still has to petition governments for the “right” to sell goods and services in Canada. There needs to be a new agreement that will deliver a single, unimpeded marketplace for internal trade, labour mobility and investment.
Uncompetitive travel and tourism strategies
Through a combination of high transportation costs and steadily reduced marketing efforts, Canada has slipped from seventh place among the world’s tourism destinations to 18th place in just a decade. A huge industry, critical in every region, is struggling with its competitiveness and needs public policies that are forward-looking and supportive.
Lack of access to capital
A critical element of business competitiveness in any industry is access to capital—be it through venture capital or through foreign direct investment. Canada must support a sustainable private-sector led venture capital market and increase its appeal to foreign investors.