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Emerging economies ‘direct competitive threat to Canada’: UPS study

Mississauga, Ont.– A recent study of Canadians’ attitudes towards globalization has revealed that two-thirds of respondents believe the emerging economic powers of Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRIC nations) represent a competitive threat to Canada’s economy with disparate opinions between have and have-not provinces.

The Angus Reid study, commissioned by UPS Canada, said that Canada’s strongest regional economies are most fearful of the rise of emerging nations overseas, while still maintaining that Canada plays a significant role in the global marketplace.

(The Angus Reid Strategies poll was conducted between August 27 and 28, 2008, and surveyed 1,012 people. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.)

Canadians living in the country’s western prairies — which have recently emerged as one of Canada’s strongest regional economies -are particularly leery of the BRIC nations with almost three quarters (73 per cent) citing the rising economies as competitive threats.

British Columbians, who have experienced heightened economic activity in the past few years, fuelled partially by the excitement surrounding the 2010 Olympics, were second in line with

70 per cent seeing the BRIC economies as a competitive threat, said the study.
Canada’s traditionally weaker economies in the Atlantic Provinces are the least concerned about the BRIC nations, with only 53 per cent expressing concern.

“What we’re seeing is a split between the have and have-not provinces in terms of their level of insecurity when it comes to the BRIC nations,” said UPS President Mike Tierney.

“With Brazil giving Saskatchewan’s agriculture industry a run for its money and China’s booming manufacturing sector hurting Canadian exports, it stands to reason that those with the strongest economies and most opportunity appear to be the most fearful of the economic damage that could be caused by the emergence of the BRIC nations.”

A little more than 60 per cent of central Canadians believe Canada plays a major role in the global economy, while 58 per cent of British Columbians and Albertans also perceived Canada to be a top player. Meanwhile, Quebeckers and Atlantic Canadians were the least inclined to lend significance to Canada’s global economic contribution.

“Despite recent reports highlighting the decline of Canada’s significance in global commerce, Canadians in prosperous regions remain optimistic about our contribution,” said Tierney. “However, the key will be to couple that optimism with actions that will ensure the prosperity is maintained, particularly given the recent challenges facing our economy.”

Tierney added that the key to overcoming overseas competition emerging from the BRIC nations will be a steady focus on big-picture entrepreneurship that will involve leveraging opportunities in the global market and investing in new technologies and innovations, rather than restricting activity to regional trade and old systems.

“Part of the reason the BRIC nations have seen such an exponential surge in their middle classes is the heightened use by entrepreneurs in those countries of opportunities outside of their comfort zone, and they’ve been quite successful in doing so,” he said. “By mimicking that spirit of ambition, Canadian businesses could stunt the inevitable intrusion into the Canadian market by these new players.” 

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