Manitoba – Canada’s Gateway to Global Trade

Manitoba – Canada’s Gateway to Global Trade
By Chris Lorenc, B.A., LL.B.,
President, Manitoba Heavy Construction Association

Editor’ note: Following are excerpts from a speech by Mr. Lorenc given on May 4, 2008 to the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce AGM.

May I extend a sincere congratulations to your Chair, President and all of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, for having raised as an objective the notion of Manitoba reaching a “have province” status. It is a pleasure on behalf of the Mayor’s Trade Council (MTC) which I had the privilege of Chairing to present a quick synopsis of its report. Members of the Council included respected individuals you all know: Dave Angus, President, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce; Jim Carr, President & CEO, Business Council of Manitoba; Stuart Duncan, President, Destination Winnipeg; Jim Eldridge, Former Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Relations and Cabinet Secretary; Kerry Hawkins, Retired CEO, Cargill Limited; Eugene Kostyra, Former, Chair Economic Development Committee of Cabinet, Province of Manitoba; Maureen Prendeville, President, Prendeville Industries; and Greg Dandewich, Economic Development Officer, Destination Winnipeg.
The MTC was unanimous in its recommendations. It concluded that changing dynamics of global trade, spurred by explosive growth in the Asia Pacific Rim countries, present a unique opportunity for Winnipeg to become “Canada’s Centre for Global Trade,” given its transportation infrastructure assets, growing trade and geographic location.
These changing trade dynamics are causing geographic realignment and reprioritization of trade routes to respond to economic growth. Within these changing dynamics, western Canada and Winnipeg Manitoba, at its eastern terminus, can capture new economic activities associated with trade and resulting value added activity.
Let me extend that report’s conclusions, by stating that.. Trade and Transportation as economic enablers, and the re-positioning of Winnipeg, the Capital Region and the Province of Manitoba collectively as “Canada’s Global Gateway to Trade” an aspiration which supports the Manitoba Chambers “province” objective.
If we play our cards right, the answer includes: economic growth, free trade zones, inland ports, new value added activity, jobs, careers, and establishing Winnipeg, the capital region and Manitoba as “Canada’s Gateway to Global Trade.”
It is important to reflect upon the fact that the economies of Winnipeg and Manitoba are driven by trade activity. As a result we have developed some inherent advantages quite apart from our central location in Canada and North America:
China trade very important
A great deal of discussion related to trade, focuses on the Asia Pacific Rim countries but in particular, China.
Why China? The rapid economic growth of China is reshaping global trade flows, and the opportunities and challenges facing all trading nations, including Canada. Consider some of the following facts:
- There is no exaggerating China’s hunger for commodities. China accounts for about 1/5th of the world’s population, yet it gobbles up more than half of the world’s pork, half of its cement, a third of its steel and over a quarter of its aluminum.
- It is spending 35 times as much on imports of soybeans and crude oil as it did in 1999, and 23 times as much importing copper – indeed, China has swallowed over 80% of the increase in the world’s copper supply since 2000.
- Chinese demand for raw materials of all sorts is growing so fast and creating such a bonanza for farmers, miners and oilmen that phrases such as “bull market” or “cyclical expansion” do not seem to do it justice. Instead, bankers have coined a new word: – Supercycle.’
- What is more, China is getting ever hungrier. Although consumption of gasoline is falling in America, the oil price is setting new records, because demand from China and other developing economies is still on the rise. The International Energy Agency expects China’s imports of oil to triple by 2030.
- China’s population growth increases by 35 million annually – that’s Canada’s entire population. The demand for resources, commodities, foods, energy – to name but a few, will not diminish, it can only grow.
- Between 1995 and 2005, Canada’s exports to China more than doubled from $3.5 billion to $7.1 billion. During the same period, Canada’s imports from China grew by almost 550%, from $4.6 billion to $29.5 billion.
- Statistics Canada announced in early April 2008 that China accounted for 1/5th of Canada’s growth in exports in 2007 and is now Canada’s 3rd largest trading partner surpassing Japan and trailing the U.K. in 2nd, and United States in 1st place.
- China’s dramatic growth is expected to continue. Experts predict that China will become the largest economy by GDP surpassing the United States within the next 30 years followed then by the US and India economies.
We cannot ignore these global realities. Canada is geographically positioned to prosper as the international trade crossroads.
China’s container traffic to and from the West Coast of North America is projected to triple in the next 20 years – that trade has to be facilitated in ports. We must act as a nation.
It is in the above context that the Manitoba International Gateway Strategy (MIGS) and the Mayor’s Trade Council (MTC) Report are significant to Manitoba’s future economic growth opportunities.
Manitoba International Gateway Strategy (MIGS)
The Manitoba International Gateway Strategy (MIGS) was conceived in order to develop a strategy to maximize the various gateway initiatives within a coordinated fashion. The component parts of MIGS have been identified with specific goals set out.
- The MIGS Vision is a sustainable transportation and distribution gateway of choice for North American mid-continent global commerce and international travel
- The Inland Port/Container Port goal is to ensure that Winnipeg’s transportation and logistics capabilities evolve into a world class multimodal inland port of choice for secure and efficient global trade and travel
- The Global Air Traffic Development goal is enhanced international air traffic volumes and related value-added activity through Winnipeg, building on our advantageous location in relation to emerging polar air and other routes, and the key asset of the WJAR Airport
- The Mid-Continent Trade and Transportation Corridor goal is to promote economic growth by facilitating efficient trade with the U.S. and Mexico through improved transportation, distribution, and border processing systems
- The Churchill Gateway Development goal is to enhance and diversify international trade through unique northern rail and seaport assets.
Western Canada’s and Manitoba’s economic prosperity and security are linked to sustained investment in a seamless multi-modal transportation system in western Canada tied to global trade growth, positioning our province to be the eastern hub of the Western Canada Transportation System, the northern hub of the mid-continent trade corridor, and primary port of entry for the Polar Route linking us through Churchill to Russia and Eurasia. This vision is not the product of wishful thinking, but on what would, not could, happen if the public and private sector leaders in our community, with our emerging entrepreneurs and future leaders all collectively worked towards establishing Manitoba as Canada’s Gateway to Global Trade.’ This is very much about what we can and must do; it is about standing up and together expressing what we as residents in Manitoba believe is required not just for our provincial interests, but as well for Canada’s. This vision is about provincial, regional and national economic growth. It is about expanding our economic exchange with a broader international community. This vision is about nation building.
Imagine Manitoba with a robust economy, promoting and legitimately repositioning itself as the gateway to global trade.
Imagine Manitoba being seen by others across Canada as the province in which to relocate, where career opportunities are real and satisfying, where development of commerce respects the principles of sustainability and environmental responsibility.
Imagine unprecedented collaboration and sharing of vision and purpose by political leaders regardless of individual ideology, from all three levels of government working together with the private sector and community to accomplish the same objectives.
Imagine our High School, College and University students enthused to apply what they have learned into practice, eager to discuss with excitement, staying in Winnipeg, the capital region and Manitoba instead of moving elsewhere in search of opportunity.
Imagine companies wishing to expand in and locate to our Capital Region and Province because of access to educated new work force entrants in a dynamic and growing economy.
The opportunities presented through enhanced trade and economic growth is well documented. Whether we seize the moment and become the gateway to global trade is in our collective hands.
Respectfully, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce must be seen as one of its primary champions.
Will our legacy be Manitoba – Canada’s Gateway to Global Trade?’ It’s up to all of us!

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