There's uncertainty in the U.S., but it's more clear in Canada: AmCham Chair
American business executives with ties to Canada are wary of the country’s economic future, causing their sentiment on the Canadian economy to reach an all-time low, according to a new survey.
The chair of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Canada, which conducted the survey, says sentiment is “definitely at a record low,” citing ongoing economic uncertainty as the main reason why.
“There's no secret that the economy right now is really kind of teetering on the edge, and people don't know whether it's going to get much worse, or if it's going to get better, so that uncertainty plays a lot into it,” Dave Olsen told BNN Bloomberg in a Friday television interview.
“The other thing that we saw in the numbers is that there's a lot of legislation right now in Parliament in Canada, and there's a lot of uncertainty around that, and I think that also contributes to the sentiment right now.”
Olsen said many American businesses have been discouraged by the regulatory landscape in Canada, including tax policies that have created challenges for companies looking to invest in the country.
He said AmCham Canada is currently in discussions with the federal government about these issues, and he’s been pleased with the level of engagement so far.
“In the last month, I can think of three or four different meetings we've had in Ottawa to address really specific concerns and regulations, and tax issues as well,” Olsen said.
“So, the engagement is there, and now it's really how we reach middle ground and common ground.”
IMMIGRATION ‘ATTRACTS INVESTMENT’
Olsen said another challenge for American companies looking to invest in Canada is a significant drop off between the productivity of U.S. and Canadian workers.
On the other hand, Olsen said Canada’s current immigration policies “attract investment,” and make it easier for companies to hire people and find the right talent.
“I think that's our magnet that brings investment in,” he said. “Most of our companies here that are expanding in Canada are expanding just for that reason.”
Olsen said that while Canada’s economy is in a technical recession and economic activity in the U.S. is livelier for the time being, uncertainty exists south of the border as well.
“In the late first or early second quarter, we are expecting a recession in the U.S. – a mild one, but still a recession,” he added.
“So, I think there's uncertainty there, but I think the uncertainty is probably more clear here in Canada right now.”
Olsen said that despite the uncertainty, “there’s no better place to invest than North America,” adding that if Canada is successful in finding common regulatory ground with U.S. companies, it will clear the way for future investment.