HALIFAX—Canadian firms need to seize the current opportunity to trade with high-growth emerging markets and make this a priority, according to Scotiabank CEO Rick Waugh.
Addressing shareholders at the bank’s annual general meeting in Halifax, Waugh said because of the realities of the global economy, Canadian companies have to be in the places where economic growth is happening.
“By mid-century, emerging markets are predicted to account for 70 per cent of global trade,” he said, noting that currently less than 12 per cent of Canada’s exports go to those markets.
He went on to say that GDP growth alone fails to tell the whole story, and that “these emerging markets have great demographics including fast-growing populations, lots of young people and a rapidly expanding middle class.”
A company expanding abroad creates skilled jobs and other benefits here in Canada, too, and Waugh said “this has a significant ripple effect through increased tax revenues, spinoffs for local businesses, money and volunteers for charities and contributions to our culture and the arts.”
Combined, this all leads to an environment that attracts highly motivated and educated workers and entrepreneurs from around the world, he said.
Waugh also said Canadian companies need to seize the international opportunities available to them “because Canada’s window of opportunity is open now, and the timing will never be better.”
While there is support from governments and even the central bank, the private sector has to lead, he said.