One of the greatest advantages that Manitoba possesses is the diversity of our economy. At a time when global events and a transition to a lower carbon economy are causing both challenges and opportunities, the reality is that Manitoba has what the rest of the world needs.
Our ability to capitalize on these opportunities, reduce barriers, invest strategically, and fully engage with Indigenous communities will have a significant impact on growing Manitoba’s economy.
That is why the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce has developed our own policy platform organized into four public policy pillars – the third of which focuses on facilitating global trade and reducing barriers. We are encouraging political parties to take the following four steps to ensure that Manitoba promotes its many advantages and grows the economy.
Facilitate Global Trade Opportunities
According to Statistics Canada, in 2022, Manitoba exported $20.7 billion worth of products. Top exports include pharmaceuticals, wheat, pork, canola and canola oil, buses, frozen vegetables, and agricultural machinery. Almost 75 per cent of all exports go to the United States, however, opportunities to diversify our province’s exports are available. As part of Canada, we can leverage 14 trade agreements with over 50 countries around the world, including Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) (North America), Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) (Europe), Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership (CPTPP) (Trans-Pacific), among others.
We are asking the next provincial government to develop a clear and robust trade strategy in Manitoba to build international trade opportunities for Manitoba businesses and to take full advantage of our province’s export potential.
Remove Regulatory Burden
A focus on reducing regulatory burdens and interprovincial trade barriers, which raises prices and reduces productivity, also needs to be a priority. Studies estimate that regulations on interprovincial trade impose the equivalent of a 6.9 per cent tariff on goods crossing these internal borders. Removing these barriers presents a significant benefit for the economy, including increased productivity, labour mobility, and a boost to GDP. All levels of government must cooperate to achieve this important goal.
We are asking the next provincial government to work with the federal government on the mutual recognition of regulations, rules, and policies to allow for the free movement of labour, goods, and services in and out of Manitoba, and the reduction of exceptions as currently established within the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, with a view of making Manitoba more competitive and growing our provincial economy.
Invest in Trade Enabling Infrastructure
Sustainable, long-term, and incremental core infrastructure programs support our economy because strategic infrastructure investment has been verified in repeat economic analyses to hold amongst the highest returns to our GDP. With an improving fiscal capacity, the next provincial government should invest in core, community, and educational infrastructure to support vibrant, healthy communities both connected within the province and to our trading partners.
We are asking the next provincial government to commit to a strategic, sustained, and disciplined approach to investment in Manitoba’s core infrastructure.
Focus on Economic Reconciliation
One of the greatest opportunities that Manitoba has is that we have an engaged and growing Indigenous population that contributes significantly to Manitoba’s economy. To realize the full opportunity, the next provincial government must be committed to economic reconciliation through collaboration and partnerships with Indigenous communities and industry on economic development.
We are all responsible for helping to build a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, and partnership. The business community has a critically important role to play, especially as it relates to economic reconciliation.
We are therefore asking the next provincial government to develop a consistent and coordinated approach to Indigenous consultation and accommodation, which clearly identifies Indigenous rights and responsibilities, the duties of the Crown, and the role of industry as a stakeholder supporting the process. This coordinated approach must harmonize provincial, territorial, and federal processes, and it must reflect relevant factors such as new and existing obligations within established case law.
It will be imperative that Manitoba’s next provincial government focuses its attention and efforts on facilitating both global and interprovincial trade and committing to meaningful engagement with Manitoba’s Indigenous Peoples. Unless we properly position our province to genuinely complete on the national and international stages, the next provincial government will be missing an incredibly important opportunity to grow Manitoba’s economy and to create a prosperous future for all Manitobans.