Colin Hansen, Tuesday’s keynoter at the ASI Canadian Power Summit, told attendees that Canada is well-positioned for economic growth and offers significant business opportunities in manufacturing, technology and transportation. “Canada weathered the economic downturn better than most countries around the world and the recovery is on pretty solid ground,” said Hansen, the former finance minister of British Columbia. “What’s important now is that Canadian businesses start telling our story and talk about what the nation has to offer.”
Although he acknowledged some regions of Canada have been hard hit, Hansen sees oil prices bouncing back, helping Canadian firms. He disputes the notion that in recent months oil prices “collapsed,” instead viewing the dip as more cyclical. “It was just in June of 2014 that oil was above $100 a barrel,” he said. “Prices are already coming back and will get back to $90 a barrel.”
On relations between the U.S. and Canada, Hansen said he believed the countries’ ties were currently “very good.” He said he was generally supportive of the new fast-track trade bill that passed in the U.S. Senate this week, arguing that free trade is a “win-win” for everyone. He expressed optimism that the U.S. would elect a president in 2016 that would continue “to break down trade barriers and have strong international outreach.”
In discussing the ad specialty industry, Hansen thinks Canada can become a larger player in the promotional products market – not just through sales, but trade. “If you were bringing in product from Asia, Canada actually has the closest ports, the lowest transportation costs and a talented labor force,” he said. “So I believe Canada can play a much bigger role in the promotional products sector as a base from which to do operations aimed at the Americas.”
Hansen closed his session by telling Canadian ad specialty firms “to stop simply pushing products and focus on strong service” as a growth strategy. “Online platforms,” Hansen said, “will eat your lunch if you’re just selling products.” Counselor interviewed Hansen following his session to glean more insight and advice. Click here to watch the video.