Premier, ministers hear MHCA trade proposal
Trade Team West strategy critical to economic growth in Western Canada and Manitoba: Lorenc
Premier Brian Pallister has set out economic growth as his government’s priority for the next four years, and boosting Manitoba’s trade profile is central to achieving that goal, MHCA President Chris Lorenc told a gathering of 200 senior political and business leaders Wednesday.
“We need a Trade Team West initiative to identify investment in strategic, multi-modal trade gateways and corridors across Western Canada which seamlessly connects the West through North America to the world,” Lorenc said, in his address to the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce Annual Ministers Dinner, which MHCA sponsored.
Lorenc’s address followed an equally impassioned call for improved trade transportation infrastructure from Don Stewart of the Manitoba Trucking Association, also a dinner sponsor.
Lorenc cited Manitoba economic statistics that show trade accounts for 53% — or $34 billion – of this province’s annual GDP. While Manitoba is a prolific trading partner, its trade potential is at risk by the fact our markets are not diversified – the U.S. is by far the largest importer with some $9 billion in our total exports destined there.
Further Manitoba’s potential is impaired by the difficulties seen on a national level, including international disputes that result in bans on canola and pork by China and the complexities in Canada of getting oil and gas out of the ground and into pipelines.
Lorenc proposed a Western Canadian solution to resolving internal and global trade barriers.
“Imagine, all four Western premiers and business leaders fully engaged in advancing the economic interests of the region, sorting through the economics of responsible, safe development and movement of our natural resources.
“Is this a guaranteed win? No. Is this a venue for authentic, healthy exchange of facts and realities? Yes.”
That Trade Team West initiative would bring political and business leaders together to speak to barriers, difficulties and the potential from a regional effort. This would include prioritizing investment in trade-enabling transportation infrastructure.
The last such regional effort, the Asia-Pacific Corridor and Gateway Initiative, opened new supply lines to Asian economies and spun $1.4 billion in federal infrastructure funding into a total $14 billion investment, much of it private.
Trade is not just an exchange of goods and services. Trade is the means by which people in distant places with very different cultures, languages and ways of life come to know each other. Cooperate. Learn. Grow. Prosper,” Lorenc said in his address. “So, let’s harness the long-term wealth generation enabled by trade, enabled by a Trade Team West vision, led by our Premier.”
To read Lorenc’s full address click here.