Diversifying Trade And Increasing Export Markets Key To Economic Growth
Today, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the expansion plan of its international presence by naming the locations for four new trade and investment offices. These offices will be located in London, United Kingdom; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Mexico City, Mexico; and, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Announced as a key part of the 2021-22 Provincial Budget, the establishment of four new office locations will facilitate investment and trade efforts to grow the province's exports and economy, and will complement the first four offices in Japan, India, Singapore and China. The expansion into these priority markets will give Saskatchewan a stronger regional presence in the United Kingdom (UK) and Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Latin America, and a heightened focus on key markets in Southeast Asia.
"Saskatchewan is an exporting province, and it will be even more important to diversify and grow our export markets coming out of the global COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring a strong economic recovery here at home in the months and years ahead," Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said. "These new trade and investment offices will expand our international network and enhance opportunities to increase the value of our exports by 50 per cent, as well as increase the number of international markets to which Saskatchewan exports more than $1 billion, in support of our ambitious Growth Plan goals."
The UK is a strategic location for connectivity throughout the European Union (EU), and London is one of the largest international financial centres in the world. A Saskatchewan United Kingdom office will provide the opportunity to seek investment within the UK and Europe. Canada's existing transitional bilateral trade agreement with the UK will preserve the benefits of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) until a comprehensive Canada-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is signed.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an important partner for Saskatchewan and a significant destination for agricultural commodity imports. As a hub into key agricultural markets such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, it has one of the highest per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world. Saskatchewan's merchandise exports to the UAE in 2020 were valued at approximately $627 million and it is the province's largest export market in the MENA region.
Mexico is Latin America's second largest economy and has the highest GDP per capita. It is a part of 11 Free Trade Agreements with 46 countries, as well as the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Mexico is a well-established market for Saskatchewan, consistently factoring in Saskatchewan's top five agri-food destinations. There is also strong potential to enhance collaboration, partnership and joint research in other sectors through an on-the-ground presence. As a hub, the Saskatchewan Mexico office will enable regional access to other priority Latin American markets as well.
Vietnam is home to 95 million people, half of whom are under 30, and a growing middle class. It is a mature market for Canadian wheat and canola meal, and holds great potential for further exports of grains, oilseeds and feed. Vietnam is also party to the CPTPP, which promotes free trade in the region.
Overall merchandise export sales in Saskatchewan in 2020 were more than $30 billion, up 2.5 per cent over 2019. This was the highest percentage increase among the provinces, including a record $16.9 billion in agricultural exports last year.