Canada in drive to attract Gulf investments
Toronto, the provincial capital of Ontario, Canada. (Wikipedia)
Top Canadian ministry officials recently hosted a business breakfast in Dubai, UAE to discuss the investment and trade opportunities between the Gulf and the Canadian province of Ontario.
The meeting was hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, food and Rural Affairs (Omafra) and the Consulate General of Canada.
The event drew good response with two local companies confirming their interest in investing in Ontario’s food production industry, according to a spokesperson for Omafra.
Ontario, a Canadian province bordering Hudson Bay to the north and the US to the south, is the largest food processing province in Canada and has long been a destination for many of the world’s largest food processing and manufacturing companies.
Its location - with over 400 million North American consumers within easy reach - makes it an ideal distribution centre for the Canadian, American and Mexican markets, a statement said.
The Canadian food retail sector represents approximately C$87 billion ($65.8 billion) total sales with Ontario’s population accounting for 32 per cent (27.7 billion) of overall sales. There is also growing interest in ethnic food - driven by the province’s increasingly culturally diverse population.
This provides an opportunity for GCC food manufacturers as more and more retailers are looking to purchase Asian, South Asian and Halal products to increase their market share. Consumer trends have also influenced product offerings as more people look for convenient food that will fit their busy lifestyles, and are interested in healthy, locally grown and produced foods.
Additionally, the province’s transportation infrastructure integrates seamlessly with the US system, which allows businesses based in Ontario to quickly and conveniently deliver products to markets in North America and beyond.
In 2014, Ontario food manufacturers exported C$12.5 billion in agri-foods globally including the United States, Mexico, Japan, Russia and Hong Kong, in addition to Canada’s own market, according to the spokesperson.
Canada has seen foreign direct investment almost triple between 1998 and 2011, from C$219.4 billion to C$607 billion with companies across the world, and from various sectors, have established presence in Ontario due to its many benefits for businesses.
“Ontario has taken many steps in the last five years to foster a more competitive business climate, positioning the province as one of the most attractive locations in the industrialized world for new business investment. Recent governmental initiatives include the elimination of Capital Tax, reduced corporate income tax rates and the Global Trade Strategy to support exports to global markets and boost jobs in Ontario,” he said.
In Ontario the combined federal-provincial corporate income tax rate is almost 13 percentage points below the US average. Regional businesses benefit from labour costs that that are among the lowest of the G7 countries, apprenticeship training tax credits for some skilled workers, as well as one of the world’s most generous R&D tax programs, which can reduce the after-tax cost for every C$100 in R&D spending to approximatelyC$56, or C$38 if you’re a small business.
Ontario is a trade and investment partner to the GCC and countries across the region in many sectors including the food and beverage industry. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait are among the top 25 countries importing Canadian bakery products.
The Ontario food trade with GCC countries is also growing. The Ontario agri-food trade with the UAE amounted to C$25,927,759 in 2014 compared to C$10,619,413 in 2013 marking a 244 per cent increase. The agri-food trade with Saudi Arabia amounted to C$44,789,784 in 2014 an 11 per cent increase from 2013.
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