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Photo by Joey Shea

Business as Usual in La Belle Province…Or not

Photo by Joey Shea

“La Colloque sur les relations internationales du Quebec (CRIQ)” was held last week at Université du Quebec à Montreal (UQAM). CRIQ focused on Quebec’s role on the international stage. The conference boasted many prominent speakers, which included the consulate general of Brazil in Montreal, presidents of various Quebec businesses as well as a plethora of political science professors from the university itself. One notable speaker was Jean Séguin, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Economic Development of Quebec. More importantly, Séguin is leading a new sub-department within the Department of Economic Development of Quebec known as Export Quebec.

Export Quebec is being marketed as a forward-thinking sub-department of the Department of Economic Development, intended to assist Quebecois local businesses which have suffered significantly within the last three years. With this new department, the Department of Economic Development of Quebec aims to create a stable, efficient and simplified atmosphere for export relations. The new sub-department is responsible for helping young businesses to establish a base and financial support in Quebec. Export Quebec also supports established businesses. The department totals approximately 150 people, half of which work in offices outside of the province in order to help Quebec businesses set up shop in foreign markets. And although they are not well know as of yet, Export Quebec’s budget has been increasing each year, highlighting its importance to Quebec’s economic development. The department boasts 14 regional offices which demonstrate the efforts of Quebec’s Department of Economics to address economic concerns province-wide. Another important aspect is Export Quebec’s partnerships with other governmental departments such as Investment Quebec, Centre de Recherche Industrielle du Quebec and Economic Development Canada. Partnerships with these and other governmental departments allow for Export Quebec to coordinate its activities more effectively with regard to Quebecois businesses and improve its reputation in a world that is currently (and for the most part) unaware of its existence.

Séguin concluded his segment with remarks on the current situation of Quebec’s economy in the midst of a global recession. Before the economic collapse of 2008-2009, 80% of Quebec’s exports went to the United States and Western Europe. However, due to the strength of the Canadian dollar and the economic crisis in the United States, fewer exports from Quebec now go to these areas of the world. The new focus is now on emerging markets in the third world. In particular, the BRIC nations have been drawing the attention of Quebec firms who see the growing middle class in these countries as fresh consumers. Export Quebec predicts that within 10 years over 60% of exports from Quebec will be directed at Brazil, Russia, India or China. Séguin claims that this is because of more governmental regulation in these countries, which appear to be more attractive to Quebec businesses.

Although the seminar focused mainly on Quebec’s economy and exports, it is interesting to note how global events such as the economic collapse three years ago and the recent troubles in the European Union can have a profound effect on businesses here. It goes to show that Quebec is not alone in the world and if it truly wishes to have its businesses expand internationally it must be aware of these factors. Export Quebec appears to be on the right track and the future looks bright.

–  Matthew Eidinger

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