Western Economic Diversification Canada
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WD Trade and Investment Activities

WD collaborates with federal, provincial and industry partners to assist small and medium-sized enterprises prepare for and participate in international business, improve trade corridors of importance to Western Canada, as well as enhance the capacity of the region to attract and retain Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The department works with not-for-profit organizations to achieve its Trade and Investment objectives. Types of Trade and Investment initiatives supported by WD include: Grant and Contribution (G&C) projects, North American Platform Program (NAPP), Procurement and Industrial Regional Benefits initiatives, Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor initiatives and Trade and Investment Research and Advocacy. These initiatives are described in more detail in the following paragraphs:

G&C Projects – Transfer payments are made in support of projects undertaken within the two Program Activity Architecture (PAA) sub-activities of Market and Trade Development and FDI under the authority of the Western Diversification Program (WDP). Sixty projects in the department's database were coded as Market and Trade Development and three projects were coded as FDI.

The department's role in FDI has generally been more selective given the role played by the provinces and regional and municipal economic development organizations in attracting FDI to their area. The department, however, has provided funding to provincial, municipal and industry organizations to carry out investment missions, including hosting foreign delegations visiting Western Canada as well as participating in investment missions abroad. While only a few of the department's G&C projects have been coded to FDI, many of the projects coded to Market and Trade Development also had a strong FDI component to them.

The following table represents investments in these 63 projects from the 2007–08 to 2011–12 fiscal years.

Grants and Contributions Projects 2007–08 to 2011–12
WDP Initiatives Number of Projects Approved
WD Assistance
Total Funding WD %
Conference Support Payments 2 $33,283 $657,774 5%
Western Economic Partnership Agreements (WEPA) Round III (2008–12) 16 $11,532,671 $42,883,021 27%
Western Diversification Program 41 $26,685,504 $49,968,439 53%
WEPA Round II (2003–08) 4 $1,185,382 $1,936,776 61%
Grand Total 63 $39,436,840 $95,446,010 41%

Source: WD Project Gateway Database

Some examples of the types of activities funded include:

  • Global market engagement activities, including international business advisory services, international marketing strategies and promotional activities, trade shows, as well as trade and investment missions (e.g., supporting BC’s Four Host First Nations mission to Beijing, (WD support of $59,000 in 2008–09);
  • Efforts to increase FDI into Western Canada, such as developing a program to attract and engage foreign investment during the 2010 Olympics (WD support of $805,000 in 2009–10); and
  • International science and technology partnership activities, such as supporting an advanced malting and brewing laboratory and testing centre in Manitoba (WD support of $279,000 in 2009–10).

The following figure shows the number and amount of funding approved for G&C projects in the area of Trade and Investment by region and year. WD's support for Trade and Investment peaked in 2009–10, largely as a result of the 2010 Olympics, as well as support for several large WEPA projects.

Text Description, Figure 1: Trade and Investment (G&C) Project Approvals

This figure shows the total number and value of Trade and Investment (G&C) project approvals. The figure also shows the regional breakdown amount in dollars.

North American Platform Program (NAPP) – Since 2003, the department has participated in two federal partnership programs to enhance Canada's relationship with the United States and Mexico and promote increased Trade and Investment with these countries. From 2003–08, the department contributed $5 million to the United States Enhanced Representation Initiative (ERI) and implemented 75 international business development projects (totaling $1 million) to support western Canadian companies pursuing opportunities in the United States. These successes led WD in 2008 to contribute another $3.75 million over five years (until 2013) to ERI's successor, the North American Platform Program (NAPP). NAPP builds on the results from ERI and provided a coordinated federal approach to advancing Canada's advocacy, trade and investment and science and technology interests with the United States and Mexico. A 2012 evaluation of NAPP conducted by DFATD found that the NAPP partnership facilitated the participation of thousands of Canadian businesses, industry and government representatives from across the country in activities and events that show-cased Canadian capacity. In addition, the NAPP partnership contributed to an increased awareness of Canadian interests and capacities and the training offered under NAPP to partners was highly valued and appears to have contributed to enhanced staff capacity and performance.

Procurement and Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRB) – The department plays an important role in supporting western Canadian firms to access Government of Canada IRB opportunities, particularly in the aerospace and defence sectors through its Advocacy sub-program activity. Departmental-supported initiatives under this priority have included trade shows, trade missions and market/product development projects. The Government of Canada's IRB Policy is part of the government's overall procurement process for major defence and security purchases and supports long-term industrial development across Canada by leveraging opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises related to new major investments in military equipment. An evaluation of the department's advocacy function is scheduled for 2015–16 and will cover IRBs in more detail. The current evaluation focussed on IRB-related G&C projects that are linked to Trade and Investment and encourage western Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to access the global supply chains of major international aerospace and defence companies.

Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridors Initiative – The department has supported Western Canada's gateway and corridors – notably, the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative (APGCI) and the Mid-Continent Trade and Transportation Corridor – to improve the region's ability to participate in global value chains by facilitating the shipment of goods to and from Western Canada to Asia Pacific and the United States and Mexico. The APGCI is a horizontal federal initiative that encompasses strategic investments and related policy measures to create a world-class transportation network that facilitates shipments between Canada and Asia Pacific, while the Mid-Continent Trade and Transportation Corridor links Western Canada through a connecting road and rail system to the American Midwest, Southwest and Mexico. The department has participated in several APGCI and related federal committees to advocate for Western Canada’s interests, including the Interdepartmental ADM Gateways and Corridors Committee and the Interdepartmental APGCI Steering Committee.

Through the APGCI, WD received $4.4 million to carry out two major initiatives: a) $4 million in 2006–08 to support the Fraser River Port Authority to dredge the Fraser River to maintain a competitive shipping channel; and b) $400,000 to carry out research initiatives to consult with western stakeholders about the economic potential and opportunities of the APGCI. Examples of the research initiatives include the following:

  • North Asian Posts’ Study Tour of western Canadian science and technology capabilities;
  • Western Canada’s Gateway Economy – the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada undertook a scan of successful international gateways and developed case studies to identify features that make them successful;
  • Assessment of community economic needs – Saskatchewan and Manitoba organized stakeholder engagement sessions to identify gaps/needs to support communities to do business in Asia;
  • China International Fair for Investment and Trade – WD developed promotional materials to encourage foreign investment into Western Canada; and
  • Leading the Way – WD undertook case studies of successful Canadian companies in Asia to encourage other Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to pursue opportunities in Asia.

Research and Advocacy – To provide further understanding around Western Canada’s participation in international markets, the department provides support to pan-western, multi-regional and regional Trade and Investment research initiatives. This activity also contributes to the department’s program activity (and related outcomes) in Policy, Advocacy and Coordination. Recent reports have examined North America’s trade and global value chains; trends in foreign direct investment in Canada; barriers to trade across the United States border; and ways to support Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to pursue international markets. Additionally, in 2006, the department developed an investment marketing tool, “Western Canada: Where the Spirit of Innovation Finds a World of Opportunity” to attract foreign investment to Western Canada.