Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bad news for travel loving politicians

The trade mission, no doubt one of the favoured perks of politicians who get to do a little travel on the public dime, could soon be on the endangered list. That is if the findings of a UBC study in the effectiveness of those long distance junkets is taken to heart.

Keith Head and John Ries, two professors at the Sauder School of Business, studied trade statistics before and after a number of high profile Federal trade missions to China from the Jean Chretien era and found that there was no noticeable trade development that came from those missions.

The statistical survey was culled from 1983-2003 during the much heralded Team Canada excursions which saw politicians and business leaders fan out across Asia to stoke the fires of investment and trade with Canada.

The trade mission to Asia is also a favourite device of the current provincial Liberals and even Prince Rupert politicians have made the pilgrimages to China and Japan with trips overseas going as far back as the Pete Lester era.

A time when we all awaited development of such projects as China Steel, which as history has gone on to show never quite reached the developmental stage.

If the two professors data is to be taken as correct, much like the days of China Steel, very little in the way of development has come from the trans Pacific journeys of our political and business classes.

Not surprisingly, some business leaders dispute their findings, suggesting that without the face to face personal communication that these missions provide, the opportunity to expand Canadian trade could very well be lost.

Though it seems that instant success isn't always there for the taking from the efforts of the wandering officials, sometimes they say it takes years to navigate relationships and negotiate deals, which to their mind could explain the lack of success as seen in the Sauder School study.

You can check out the findings of the professors and the rebuttals of the business community from the Vancouver Sun's article posted to their website on Wednesday.

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