Mining sector welcomes Canada's shift to 'dollar diplomacy'

Mining sector welcomes Canada's shift to 'dollar diplomacy'

Main focus of Canada’s diplomats will now be trade.

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) expressed its support to Canada’s plans to use more of its diplomatic resources to pursue commercial aims in key markets such as China and India, as the country tries to grow business abroad.

Trade Minister, Ed Fast, said Wednesday that Canada is ready to implement “economic diplomacy” as the driving force in its foreign-service network.  In other words, the main focus of Canada’s diplomats will now be trade.

To achieve this goal, Ottawa is redirecting diplomatic budgets and staff from small developing countries in regions such as Africa, to countries with more potential for exports such as China (see map).

Mining sector welcomes Canada's shift to 'dollar diplomacy'

Courtesy of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.

The plan represents a “sea change in the way Canada’s diplomatic assets are deployed around the world,” Fast said in a press release.

MAC's President and CEO Pierre Gratton, said the industry only not welcomes the new trade strategy, but considers it “critical” to compete against other countries for “highly-coveted mining investment.”  He added the Global Markets Action Plan will help give Canadian miners an edge in accessing capital and mineral resources globally.

Elements that will help strengthen Canadian mining abroad, according to the MAC:

    • Reconfirming the Government of Canada's focus on completing trade agreements with priority markets, including Free Trade Agreements and Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements.
    • Enhancing the Trade Commissioner Network's reach to further support Canadian business abroad.
    • Establishing a new Extractive Sector Strategy that complements Canada's CSR strategy, Building the Canadian Advantage: A CSR Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector.
    • Creating an Advisory Board for Natural Resources to provide strategic insight, advice and real-world perspectives on how Canadian business can stay competitive globally.

By 2018, the plan states, the government is looking to grow Canada’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) presence in emerging markets from 29% to 50%, getting 10,000 extra companies active in those markets in the process.

Canada’s Conservative government has previously showed prove of its interest in tying foreign policy and trade, as earlier this year it eliminated the Canadian International Development Agency, merging its functions into a new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

Ottawa has also said it would integrate commercial and foreign policy considerations with international development efforts, which have usually focused more exclusively on poverty reduction.

Cover image by I. Pilon