What makes Canada a good market for Singapore companies to venture into?

CNA
Making Business Sense
Why Canada?
Economic powerhouse
Canada is the world’s 10th largest economy. It is the only Group of Seven (G7) country to enjoy preferential market access to 51 countries — totalling more than 1.5 billion consumers. This access comes from Canada’s participation in various major free trade agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Singapore companies can benefit from opportunities in Canada’s consumer market. With its US$45,000 (S$60,750) per capita GDP as of 2018, Canada ranks among the world’s top 20 wealthiest countries.

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Diverse population
Canada has a population of 37.4 million, which continues to grow. It also has the highest rate of immigration among the G7 nations. Almost 22% of Canadians identify themselves as immigrants, with 60% of the new immigrants coming from Asia, especially China and India.
While English and French are the official languages of Canada, languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi and Tagalog are rapidly growing in tandem with the increasing immigrant population.
This ethnic diversity puts Singaporean entrepreneurs, who have experience catering to Singapore’s multicultural consumer base, at an advantage.

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Well-educated, highly-skilled workforce
Canada’s 37.4 million population is the world’s most educated, with more than half of its people having attained post-secondary education. Also, 2.8 million of its population are Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates.
Apart from developing homegrown talent, Canada’s immigration policy has attracted global talents. The Canadian government’s Global Skills Strategy, which allows highly-skilled foreigners in key sectors such as software engineering to receive work visas in just two weeks, has attracted almost 24,000 global talents since its launch in 2017. Canada’s growing tech sector has benefitted from the programme, and in 2017, Toronto emerged as the world’s fastest-growing area for tech jobs.
In the 2018 World Talent Ranking published by IMD Business School, Canada was ranked 6th for attracting talent. Singapore companies venturing into Canada can benefit from its well-educated workforce.

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Gateway to Europe and Latin America
Canada’s border stretches from the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, making it a major hub for global trade. With 26 airports and 18 seaports, Canada offers air transport links as well as direct maritime access to Asia, Europe and Latin America. This means Canada is well-positioned as a gateway for Singapore companies looking to enter or expand into new markets.

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Abundant natural resources
Canada has been blessed with natural resources and agricultural produce. The country is the world’s:
  • 5th largest agricultural exporter
  • Largest producer of potash for agriculture
  • 2nd largest exporter of wheats and grains
  • 2nd largest producer of niobium for superconducting materials
  • 5th largest producer of coal
  • 4th largest producer and exporter of oil in the world

Singapore companies in sectors such as agriculture, electronics, and oil and gas will find opportunities in Canada.

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Economic freedom and protection
Like Singapore, Canada has a business-friendly regulatory environment. The 2018 Index of Economic Freedom listed Canada as the 9th freest economy in the world, with an economic freedom score of 77.7.
Investors have full and fair protection under Canada’s legal system, with few restrictions on the rights to private property. Its protection of intellectual property rights meets world-class standards, while the judicial system is independent and transparent, and enforces contracts vigorously.

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62
%
of Canadian 25 to 34 year-olds had tertiary qualifications in 2018, as compared with the average of 44% in other countries.
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Investment Opportunities
Top Industries to Consider
INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT

Canada’s financial institutions, including banks, private equity and pension funds, continue to look for investment opportunities in emerging markets. As such, Singapore project owners may be a good partner for them for infrastructure projects in the wider Asian region.

Infrastructure Asia, led by Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, aims to support Asia’s economic and social growth through infrastructure development. It serves as a bridge for different players across the infrastructure ecosystem, multilateral development banks and the public sector.

Canada is committed to be a low-carbon economy and this is expected to open up more commercial partnerships on green infrastructure, particularly in the water, energy, environment and maritime sectors.

Canada’s maritime access to Asia provides another channel for Singapore maritime companies to strengthen transport links to the North American continent.

DEEP TECH / STARTUPS

Canada’s growing technology sector and its supporting ecosystem (venture capitalists, incubators, accelerators, institutes of higher learning, research institutes) present opportunities for increased economic engagement.

Canada’s research and investments into Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital technology match Singapore’s Smart Nation commitment. Singapore startups can leverage the strong ecosystem in Canada to access the wider North American markets.

Likewise, Canadian startups can access opportunities in Asia through partnerships with Singapore companies, or through setting up headquarters in Singapore, one of the leading startup and business hubs in Asia.

CONSUMER DEMAND

Canada’s consumer market, with a growing demand from its large Asian population, presents good opportunities in health and beauty, furniture, fashion and food manufacturing sectors. Food manufacturing companies can tap on Canada’s extensive distribution networks, which were developed to support the country’s own agricultural and agri-food products.

ENERGY
Canada’s rapidly developing LNG sector presents opportunities for collaboration. The Singapore companies’ manufacturing capabilities would be able to serve the needs of terminal construction and vessel conversion.
Support for Businesses
Opening Doors for Singapore Companies

Enterprise Singapore’s offices in New York and Los Angeles provide assistance to Singapore companies that are considering business opportunities in Canada in the following ways:

  • Sharing of market knowledge and expertise
  • Access to networks and contacts
  • Support through initiatives and programmes to facilitate entry into overseas markets

Based on company interests, Enterprise Singapore works closely with Singapore’s trade associations, such as the Singapore Business Federation, to organise business missions to Canada.

Seminars, workshops, networking events and mission trips also help to increase awareness of market opportunities and drum up interest among Singapore companies to invest or do business in Canada.

Existing bilateral agreements between Singapore and Canada are important in reducing trade and investment barriers between both countries. They include:

  • Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement
  • Investment Guarantee Agreement
  • Airport Transport Agreement
  • Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

Separately, programmes such as the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Overseas Colleges Toronto Programme, which provides participating students the opportunity to work full-time in startup companies across the Greater Toronto Area, as well as take courses at the University of Toronto help expose students to the Canadian market and contribute to the pipeline of global-ready talent for Singapore’s businesses.

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