OTTAWA—Manufacturing is an essential pillar to the Canadian economy and a renewed focus on the sector’s competitiveness and ability to innovate is crucial in determining our long-term economic success.
This, according to a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada, should be at the top of the list for business, academia and the government as the sector continues its recovery from the global recession in the face of surging pressure from international competition.
The report concludes manufacturing is Canada’s single largest business sector and accounts for roughly 17 per cent of our GDP, citing work from the Canadian Manufacturing Coalition, a group of 50 industry groups.
But the sector’s value and influence has been on the downswing.
Canada ranked 14th in The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, a study undertaken by the World Economic Forum which assesses the competitiveness of 144 economies.
In 2009 Canada ranked 9th.
After being leapfrogged by five competitors in as many years, the report says the time has come to reverse the trend. It outlines strategies culled from international best practices that our workforce, companies and politicians must seriously consider if growth is on the agenda.
Here are some highlights:
- Canada must do more to sell its skills, expertise, goods, services, and opportunities internationally.
- Canada needs a streamlined intellectual property (IP) process.
- An effective trade remedy system in Canada is critical in supporting domestic manufacturing investment.
- Government procurement policies have the potential to launch successful companies.
- Canada’s communications and electricity infrastructures are a competitive advantage and must be maintained
- Rising electricity costs are a growing disadvantage in competing for investments in manufacturing.
- Each sub-sector requires specialized support systems for its own innovation ecosystem.
- The number of Canadian graduates being lured away by U.S. and global organizations is a challenge
- In a world where goods can be rapidly copied, continually changing the nature of products and services through innovation is paramount.