Wednesday, December 27, 2006

They've got cars big as bars, They've got rivers of gold, But the wind goes right through you, It's no place for the old?

The latest report on the potential for the British Columbia shipping industry certainly makes one think of the Pogues fabled tale; Fairytale of New York, all is possible it seems, though one wonders if reality may in the end sing a different tale, much like the principles of the Pogues tune eventually found.

For now, an internal BC Government study is promising a bounty of jobs for West Coast ports and suggests a blue print for the future of Canadian trade with Asian destinations.

The Vancouver Sun’s Miro Cernetig managed to get a copy of the report and provides a detailed look at where the government thinks we are heading. It’s sure to be one of those articles we find pasted in the windows of realtors eager to spread the news and stoke the market a little further..

B.C. port study predicts 500,000 new jobs by 2020: Asian trade could grow by $230-billion per year if governments unite to build ports

Miro Cernetig
Vancouver Sun
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

VICTORIA -- Canada's economy could generate a bonanza of $230-billion a year in increased trade and as many as 500,000 new jobs by 2020 if the country's governments unite to build up West Coast ports, promote Asian trade and foster cultural ties with the Asia Pacific, predicts a B.C. government study.

Now being quietly circulated within the B.C. cabinet, the analysis is the heart of the provincial government's blueprint for a multi-billion-dollar expansion in West Coast ports, Vancouver's international airport, and rail and road links to and from the West Coast.

It's also a politically well-timed sales pitch designed to generate national debate about Canada's Asian future.

With a federal election possible in the months ahead, the document prompts the question of how fast to build up Canada's "Pacific Gateway" to Asia, and puts pressure on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Stephane Dion to spell out how many billions they are willing to commit to the mega-project. Up to now, the federal government has formally earmarked about $590 million, an amount that Premier Gordon Campbell has called only a down payment of the billions more he believes are needed.

Called the "Asia Pacific Initiative: British Columbia's vision", the internal government document obtained by The Vancouver Sun foresees Canada increasing immigration from Asia and deepening cross-cultural ties, particularly in tourism and education. Likely to be made public by the time of the next federal election, the B.C. government intends the document to be a call to British Columbians and Canadians to fast-track their Asian ambitions to catch up to other countries, such as Australia, which adopted similar national strategies more than a decade ago.

"We will bring together the province's political, business and cultural leaders to lead an aggressive campaign to position the province as the preeminent economic and cultural crossroads between Asia and North America," says the document.

The B.C. strategy lays out ambitious plans to more than triple Canada's current $100 billion in annual trade with the Asia Pacific by 2020. It focuses on China, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and other economies on the continent.

It also echoes Premier Gordon Campbell's mantra in recent months that building up B.C. as "Canada's Pacific Gateway" in the 21st century will be as significant economically to the country as the creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the last century. In the new year, he will be telling all who listen that Canada must move quickly to exploit its chance to be a Pacific Rim player, particularly to seize the booming global trade of shipping containers.

"British Columbia has developed the Asia Pacific Initiative to ensure that Canada is fully maximizing B.C.'s Pacific Gateway advantages to secure the economic future of the nation," says the report. "We have set a 2020 goal to position British Columbia internationally as North America's capital for Asia Pacific commerce and culture."

The study, which Premier Campbell is now reviewing during his vacation in Hawaii, cautions that nobody has put together a date to fully predict the impact of such a national investment. The authors said they are relying "on a combination of existing economic impact assessments such as the Port Vancouver Economic Impact Study and the Vancouver International Airport Economic Impact studies, as well as market share and foreign direct investment analyses between B.C./Canada and the major Asian markets."

It also assumes that growth in Asia will continue largely unabated, with no major regional economic meltdown or global recession that could set the Asian economies back significantly.
But its authors have told the B.C. cabinet that the predictions are "conservative," even if they seem staggering.

"The potential employment gain for British Columbia from achieving the Asia Pacific Initiative objectives is 55,000 direct jobs by 2020 for the gateway as a whole," the report states. "Of these jobs, some 35,000 are attributable to Asia Pacific activity.'

But the report suggests the spin-offs are even greater.

"It must be recognized that the gateway also supports a much broader economy in the downstream industries that are suppliers to the gateway [e.g. airport retail sector] and major upstream industries such as manufacturing, mining, forestry and agriculture that rely on the gateway for market access," the analysis said. "If these broader employment impacts are considered, there may be another 200,000 jobs at stake in B.C. for a total 2020 impact of 255,000 gateway jobs. To put this in perspective, it is more than the entire manufacturing sector employment in B.C. today."

On a national level, the report suggest Canadians would benefit even more.

"For Canada, the job impact may be as high as 500,000 jobs -- extremely significant when compared to other sectors," predicts the report.

"For example, [in 2005] Canada's entire transportation and warehousing sector is responsible for 800,000 jobs; agriculture 350,000 jobs; and forestry, fishing, mining and oil and gas combined is 300,000 jobs."

"The trade and investment effects of the gateway are also significant," the report adds. "The 2020 gain in goods and services trade is estimated to be about $230 billion for Canada, of which $76 billion accrues to British Columbia. Of the $76 billion, $45 billion is associated with increased exports and $31 billion is in increased imports. The scale of this impact is the equivalent of 50 per cent of B.C.'s existing trade activity of $153 billion."

You can now listen to every Vancouver Sun story on our new digital edition.

Free to full-week print subscribers or sign up for a 7-day free trial.

No comments: