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Aboriginal Business and International Trade – Canada’s Strategic Advantage (Discussion Paper)
 

Aboriginal Business and International Trade – Canada’s Strategic Advantage (Discussion Paper)

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This discussion paper, authored by Wayne Dunn, discusses how Canadian Aboriginal businesses, with their unique networking potential and their experience with industrial development projects, can ...

This discussion paper, authored by Wayne Dunn, discusses how Canadian Aboriginal businesses, with their unique networking potential and their experience with industrial development projects, can provide a strategic advantage to Canada’s international trade efforts. The paper, which foreshadows the emergence of the corporate social responsibility movement (using the term Development Technology as the term Corporate Social Responsibility had not yet been coined), argues that Canadian Indigenous experiences in Development can provide a strategic advantage to Canada’s international trade efforts in key sectors.

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    Aboriginal Business and International Trade – Canada’s Strategic Advantage (Discussion Paper) Aboriginal Business and International Trade – Canada’s Strategic Advantage (Discussion Paper) Document Transcript

    • ABORIGINAL BUSINESS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE CANADA’S STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE A DISCUSSION PAPER Prepared By: Wayne Dunn Contact (current): Phone: +1.250-743-7619 Fax: +1.250-743-7659 Email: wayne@waynedunn.com Date: 19 January, 1995
    • -1- Aboriginal Business & International Trade Canada’s Strategic AdvantageINTRODUCTIONCanadian Aboriginal businesses, with their unique networking potential and theirdevelopment technology, can provide a strategic advantage to Canada’s internationaltrade efforts.Aboriginal groups in countries around the world are getting more and more involved insustainable business development in their respective regions. These businesses areoften much more than arts and crafts and other such traditional undertakings.Indigenous peoples often have preferential access to resource development and serviceopportunities. Often, however, they lack the capacity to take advantage of theseopportunities on their own.This is where Canada’s advantage comes in. Canadian Indigenous businesses areseen as preferred partners by other Indigenous groups, especially in the developingworld. This preference can, if properly developed, result in a strategic advantage forCanadian industry in many sectors.Also, Indigenous ‘development technology--the way in which business is done tomaximize advantages and opportunities for local economies, while respecting theenvironment--can enhance the marketability of traditional Canadian exports such asconstruction and engineering services.LATIN AMERICAThe Latin American economy is predicted to be one of the fastest growing economies inthe world over the next decade. Aboriginal businesses can give Canada a strategicadvantage in this region, as their Aboriginal counterparts in Latin America assumeincreasingly important roles in development.Noll Scott, writing in the Manchester Guardian on the Indigenous people of the Amazonstated; “If the future of the Amazon is to be secured in the longer term, however, thequestion of its social and economic integration and development must finally be takenseriously...That means taking the Amazon out of its gilded cage and allowing its millionsof people full access to the benefits of modern civilization: health care and educationabove all, but also sustainable forms of economic development...(Indigenous Peoples)of the rainforest are not the enemy of conservation, but its brightest hope.”Many Aboriginal groups in Latin America have access to resource developmentopportunities in their territories, through land claims and other negotiated settlements.The United Nations Decade of Indigenous Peoples, that was launched at the UN onDecember 8, 1994, will increase the focus on Indigenous issues and result in greateropportunities for Indigenous interests, as indicated in the above quote. The decadeshould garner further support for Indigenous development from states and internationalagencies. For example, Apikan, with support from Aboriginal Business Canada (ABC)and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), is playing a leading rolewith the UNDP in developing a Global Environment Facility Trust Fund to SupportApikan Indigenous Network 19-Jan-95ABORIGINAL BUSINESS and International Trade - CANADA’S STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE
    • -2- Aboriginal Business & International Trade Canada’s Strategic AdvantageBiodiversity and Indigenous Peoples Development in Latin America. This fund wouldbe able to support the development of Indigenous to Indigenous partnerships ondevelopment projects.Apikan, with the support of ABC, CIDA and the UNDP, conducted a scoping mission inCentral America during September and October of this year. This mission traveled to ElSalvador, Belize, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Panama, meeting with 194 individualsrepresenting 78 organizations. Indigenous people were unanimous in their desire towork with Canadian Indigenous groups on trade and development projects.The Scoping Mission fount that Indigenous Peoples are interested in development, notagainst it as was previously believed by many. The Indigenous communities wantcontrol and decision making over development, as the best way to protect theenvironment and their peoples.Opportunities identified on this mission went far beyond the crafts and small scaleenterprise that most people associate with Aboriginal businesses. CanadianIndigenous partners are preferred to participate in mining and oil and gas developments,forestry, eco-tourism, agriculture, fisheries, real estate development and other majoropportunities. As a direct result of this mission, Canadian companies have initiatednegotiations for oil and gas development on Indigenous lands in Nicaragua; for fisheriesdevelopment in Indigenous controlled Caribbean waters; for preferred positions on otherresource development opportunities including, mining, forestry, agriculture and Eco-tourism. As well negotiations are underway between an Aboriginal interest in Canadaand a national Guatemalan group to establish a joint venture wholesaling and importingoperation. In addition, the profile Canada received as a result of this mission and thework Apikan and others are doing in Latin America has many other Indigenous groupslooking to Canada for partners to develop their economy.Latin American Indigenous groups have indicated that they do not have the capacity totake advantage of many opportunities and prefer to work with Canadian Indigenousgroups wherever possible. These opportunities have the potential to benefit the entireCanadian economy, as Canadian Indigenous groups often need to joint venture with nonIndigenous interests in order to undertake larger projects (i.e. mining, forestry, oil & gas,fishing, etc.) Similar circumstances will no doubt unfold on larger scale infrastructuredevelopment projects in Latin America, such as roads, bridges, Hydro projects, etc.The preferred status of Canadian Aboriginal partners was reconfirmed at theAPIKAN/United Nations Development Program Round Table on Indigenous Trade andDevelopment held at the InterAmerican Development Bank in Washington, DC onOctober 11, 1994. At this meeting, Indigenous leaders, international agencies andalternative trade organizations all gave wholehearted support for Indigenouspartnerships for business development.Clearly the Aboriginal business community gives Canadian business some veryimportant strategic advantages in the Latin American economy.DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGYApikan Indigenous Network 19-Jan-95ABORIGINAL BUSINESS and International Trade - CANADA’S STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE
    • -3- Aboriginal Business & International Trade Canada’s Strategic AdvantageWhat is ‘Development Technology’? is a normal response to the assertion that Canada’s‘development technology’ offers us a strategic advantage in exporting goods andservices to the developing world. Put simply, ‘development technology’ is a way ofmaximizing local benefits from development projects such as roads, bridges, buildings,factories, etc., which Canada has pioneered. Again, the involvement of Indigenouspeoples is the best way to protect the environment and local peoples in the developmentprocess.For example, traditional development methods would see a contract let for aconstruction project in a developing country. The contract would often go to aninternational firm that would bring in all equipment and most labour and concentratesolely on getting the job done, leaving behind only the new infrastructure. Making useof the ‘development technology’ that has been developed by the Canadian Aboriginalcommunity, the project would be executed in a way that would leave behind improvedlocal business capacity, profits and the new infrastructure.The Canadian Aboriginal community has pioneered ways of organizing projects thatallow the maximization of local benefits through locally executed subcontracts and localpurchase of goods and services. This adds very little, if any, to the total cost of theproject and leaves behind a local economy that is ready to take advantage of futureopportunities that will result from the new infrastructure. It also helps to ensure properconcern for the environment during the development process.Generally speaking, developing countries want to maximize the benefits to their localeconomies from the process of developing their infrastructure. The application of‘development technology’ is how this can be accomplished. Canada, largely through theexperience of our Aboriginal community, has the best ‘development technology’ in theworld. This is recognized in many areas of the world, and could easily be promoted asa unique Canadian feature giving our industries a strategic advantage in this growingmarket.Developing countries and regions, often with support from the World Bank and othermulti-lateral institutions, are rushing to build the infrastructure that will support thedevelopment of their economies. There are many billions of dollars worth ofopportunities for Canadian industry. Unfortunately, the competition for theseopportunities is fierce, and countries throughout the world are seeking to createadvantages for their industries in this market. Canadian ‘development technology’ isworld class, and highlighting it will position our exporters very well in these sectors.Apikan Indigenous Network 19-Jan-95ABORIGINAL BUSINESS and International Trade - CANADA’S STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE
    • -4- Aboriginal Business & International Trade Canada’s Strategic AdvantageLinking our ‘development technology’ and environmental expertise with traditionalCanadian industrial exports such as engineering, construction and manufacturing, andadapting a marketing strategy that highlights the benefits, will give Canada a particularadvantage in the international market for construction and engineering services.INTERNATIONAL PROFILEThe international profile of a country is becoming increasingly important to its tradegoals. Consumers are becoming aware of the production history of goods andservices, and are increasingly willing to pay premium prices for products that do notexploit people or the environment. The FairTrade movement is growing rapidly andsome European countries are examining methods of advantaging FairTrade productswith their tax system. A country that is noted internationally for its ‘developmenttechnology’ would see an increased tendency for its products and services to bepreferred in the marketplace.Currently, Canada is seen as a world leader in Aboriginal business development. TheUNDP and other international agencies recognize this and seek out the expertise ofCanadian groups such as Apikan, to assist in designing and implementing Indigenousdevelopment policy. This recognition helps to create a positive image for Canada thatcan be brokered into increased trade opportunities. This recognition and involvementalso identifies many trade opportunities as a result of the networking opportunities itprovides.CONCLUSIONClearly, Canada’s Indigenous businesses give us unique advantage in some keyinternational sectors (resource development, construction, engineering, etc.). Thisadvantage is only just beginning to be understood by government and Industry alike.With proper education of our trade officials and industry, and proper development workto establish the international Indigenous partnerships, Canada can take advantage ofthis opportunity.Canada should undertake the development and implementation of a strategy to takeadvantage of the opportunities available to Canadian industry through the strategicadvantages available through Indigenous businesses. At a minimum, this strategyshould educate trade officials and industry as to the possibilities, assist Indigenousbusinesses to take advantage of opportunities and work with various multi lateralagencies to examine international infrastructure options, such as the proposed TrustFund to support Biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples Development, that could supportIndigenous to Indigenous partnerships for development.Apikan Indigenous Network 19-Jan-95ABORIGINAL BUSINESS and International Trade - CANADA’S STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE