A new Canada West Foundation report entitled Building on Advantage: Improving Canada’s Trade Infrastructure was released today which reinforces the link between a healthy Canadian economy and reliable infrastructure. The report also emphasizes the ongoing need for sustainable and strategic investment in the country’s trade-related infrastructure, and has already received applause from the Canadian Construction Association (CCA).
“Canadian commodity sectors rely on the ability to move goods quickly and efficiently, particularly if those sectors are to meet increasing demand from lucrative new global markets,” said Michael Atkinson, president of the CCA. “This report from the Canada West Foundation highlights that a failure to address our country’s infrastructure needs has the potential to lead to future crisis. Without strategic investment in our trade-related infrastructure, Canada may miss out on the tremendous economic opportunities available to us.”
The report showcases that Canada’s current infrastructure assets have served the country well so far, but have seen a steady decline in world rankings. In the 2010 World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Index, Canada’s infrastructure assets were ranked in 9th place. By 2014, Canada had fallen to 19th place, and behind the United States.
“As a country, we must ensure that we can meet demand and maintain our reputation as a reliable supplier,” Atkinson continued. “Investments to manage, expand and build trade-related infrastructure are truly investments in the economy, and in some cases could unlock more than $1.3 trillion in economic output, 7.6 million person-years of employment, and $281 billion in tax revenue. Recent investments by Canadian governments are an acknowledgment of this, and we are pleased to see infrastructure remain top of mind in many policy circles.”
The report makes several recommendations in order to initiate action on trade-related infrastructure, such as carving out an explicit portion of existing federal infrastructure funds for trade-related infrastructure, introducing a focus on innovation in the procurement of trade infrastructure projects, and the establishment of a national public-private body that would develop a long-term investment plan linked to the country’s trade agenda and priorities.
These recommendations are closely aligned to a recent report from the B20 entitled, Driving Growth and Jobs – B20 Policy Recommendations to the G20. The business council to the G20 report suggests, among other recommendations, that countries develop supply-chain strategies to reflect their infrastructure investment, and those investments, both public and private-sector, remain tied to a national strategic vision.