The covid-19 crisis has negatively affected the Canadian economy for more than a year. According to the latest statistics, the Canadian economy contracted by 5.3% in 2020 (compared to the original estimate of 7.1%). A growth rate of between 4-5% is expected for this year. However, the development will depend on the further development of the pandemic, government restrictions and the pace of vaccination of the population. The unemployment rate decreased from last May’s record of 13.7% to 8.2% in February.
Compared to the period before the pandemic, approximately 660,000 people are missing from the labor market. jobs, a return to the original level is expected by the end of 2022. Positive for the development of the Canadian economy is the renewed increase in oil prices and its export.
Good news for Canada is also the development in the USA, which is its largest and most dominant trading partner. This is because the United States economy is expected to grow faster than originally expected for this year.
The Canadian government has spent tens of billions of dollars fighting covid-19 and its effects. Spending at all levels of government reached a historic high of 57.3% of GDP in 2020 alone. The state budget deficit for the 2020-21 fiscal year thus amounted to CAD 38 billion (i.e. 15% of GDP). In addition to many measures to help both employees and employers, some of which are still being adjusted and extended, the government presented a long-awaited updated strategy to fight the pandemic and revive the economy.
The Liberal government plans to spend an additional approximately CAD 100 billion over the next three years to jump-start the post-pandemic economy. Stimulus spending, designed to build a greener, more innovative and more competitive economy, should be triggered after wider distribution of the vaccine and an expected return to normal economic activity. This plan is to be specified in more detail within the draft state budget, which the government has not submitted for the last two years.
Post-covid-19 opportunities for foreign exporters
The Canadian government’s measures to combat the coronavirus crisis have dampened much of the domestic economy. Some sectors have been affected more (aircraft industry), some less (agriculture), others have to face long-term transformational trends (automotive industry).
Nevertheless, the Canadian government is doing everything to ensure that the affected economy recovers as quickly as possible. The pandemic also created new opportunities that Czech companies could take advantage of (ICT or healthcare).
Car sales fell by 20% in 2020 due to the covid-19 crisis, while the free fall continues in 2021 (a drop of almost 20% in January 2021), which in the case of a two million car market would mean a drop of 800,000. vehicles sold. The faster recovery of the Canadian market may be recorded by the persistent fear of the transmission of infections and the effort to avoid sharing a common space in public transport, combined with the traditional Canadian positive attitude towards automobile transport.
According to allcountrylist, the Canadian automotive industry (albeit without its own OEMs) produces light commercial vehicles (cars, vans), heavy duty vehicles (trucks, trucks, buses, school buses, military vehicles) and a wide variety of parts, components and systems used in automobiles, primarily for export (90% of production), mainly to the USA.
The center of car production is the province of Ontario, Chrysler (Fiat), Ford, GM, Honda and Toyota cars are produced here. It contributes more than CAD 20 billion to Canada’s GDP. In recent years, Canada has been very active in supporting research, development and innovation (Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia) and in connection with covid-19 the federal government announced a program to support research centers and emphasizes their potential as generators of future growth (in fields such as autonomous vehicles or electromobility).
In 2020, despite the pandemic, it was possible to achieve massive promises of new investments from American manufacturers, GM, Ford and Chrysler (Stellantis) in the amount of more than 4 billion CAD in new types of vehicles, especially electric ones. This should create a number of new jobs and business opportunities.
More than 43,000 people work in the information and communication technology sector on the Canadian market. companies, most of which fall into the software and computer services sector. As a growing field, ICT also contributes significantly to the growth of Canadian GDP, before the pandemic the annual value of the sector was about CAD 100 billion, i.e. about 6% of the national GDP.
Although according to some surveys, the global ICT sector may stagnate during the pandemic, a rapid recovery of its growth is expected. While Canada represents a relatively small part of this global market, ICT has become one of the country’s main drivers of innovation and economic growth within the country.
ICT sub-sectors, such as SW development, data processing, cyber security and the provision of computer services, are celebrating success, but fintech sectors and ICT-oriented startups in general are also growing dynamically. Fields related to artificial intelligence and information technology related to robotics and advanced manufacturing (which are topics on which Canada is placing increasing emphasis and government and private investment) also have great prospects.
More and more companies are realizing the importance of implementing digital platforms in order to increase competitiveness and provide a better level of service in a more targeted and personal way, which is evidenced by the increasing annual budget allocations to technology (up to 97% of companies plan to increase their investments).
As a result of the pandemic, investments in IT are needed, especially in the healthcare and public sectors. The ongoing need for remote and online collaboration, which is becoming the norm, has increased the demand for telecommunications services and continues to bring new opportunities in collaboration applications and platforms, moving work and data to the cloud, as well as related security technologies.
Healthcare and pharmaceutical industry
The Canadian health care system has been experiencing an increase in demand for a long time due to an aging population and the associated development of chronic diseases. Investments in health care will become increasingly necessary also for the purpose of ensuring the health and productivity of the population.
The covid-19 pandemic has exposed weaknesses in the Canadian health care system, such as insufficient investment in research and development of new drugs or the instability of the supply chain of protective equipment or drugs (with limited domestic production), as well as relatively low capacity.
In the case of Canada, healthcare represents a highly diversified field, based on cutting-edge technologies and intensive R&D. The market for medical devices and instruments (diagnostics, orthopedics, prosthetics, dental products) is the eighth largest in the world. Despite the fact that Canadian imports of medical devices and other technical equipment make up almost 75% of about CAD 5 billion and the import of pharmaceutical products almost CAD 14 billion (trade is dominated by the USA, China, Mexico, Switzerland and Germany), there are Czech companies very rarely represented.
For the entry or expansion of Czech supplies to Canada, one must expect a highly competitive environment, especially from American companies, and higher entry costs associated with demanding certification. The sector offers, among other things, the possibility of supplying medical equipment and hospital beds, the market lacks enough companies supplying precisely hospital equipment or other medical products, the market of medical analytical devices can offer interesting opportunities. Major centers in Canada include large cities and their agglomerations, primarily Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
The global pandemic has also created opportunities for the expansion of virtual healthcare in Canada. In the Canadian market, vendors and developers of solutions that provide better online access to health information, such as portals that allow patients to book appointments online, websites that provide patients with access to electronic medical records or laboratory results, and platforms that connect patients with providers, will find opportunities in the Canadian market.
Mobile applications that allow remote access to healthcare are on the rise. Remote patient monitoring or digital tools for mental health care have potential. Healthcare providers are looking for solutions to streamline healthcare processes, especially when it comes to scheduling and billing for medical virtual care.
Agricultural and food industry
The Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and Ontario Province are important agricultural and food producers. For the time being, it appears that the impact of the pandemic on the sector is only very limited and it will be more about the search for new technologies that will make production more efficient and ensure a higher level of automatic solutions. Important export commodities are grain (wheat, barley, oats), legumes and oilseeds (rapeseed), as well as products of the meat industry. The size of the market and capacities confirm the interest in agricultural machinery and research and scientific cooperation.
Major agricultural and food imports into Canada include wine, food preparations, bakery products, coffee, beer, spirits, confectionery, and dog and cat food (for retail sale). Canada’s population is increasing, as is the demand for Canadian agricultural exports, so the demand for agricultural products and technology will continue to increase in Canada.
At the same time, there is a demand for new technologies associated with agriculture (drones, smart agriculture). Interesting opportunities were provided by technologies and raw materials associated with brewing and the dynamically growing sector of microbreweries, of which dozens were added annually in Canada, although the future of this market will depend on the speed of economic recovery.
Rail and rail transport
Traveling by public transport may change significantly for a long time due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, Canada remains a perspective sector for Czech companies as well. Overall, the Canadian rail sector, especially in the area of passenger transport, is chronically underfunded, and even growing traffic in cities does not offer other solutions.
In a number of Canadian cities (Toronto – Finch LRT, Ontario Line; Calgary – Green Line; Ottawa – Confederation Line, Montreal – REM, Vancouver – Skytrain, plus projects in Edmonton and other Canadian cities) transport infrastructure projects (rail tracks, trams, bridges, tunnels, roads) and Czech companies have the chance to participate by subcontracting (steel structures, parts of rolling stock, road milling technology).
Although the pandemic may slow down some started rail passenger transport projects in cities or temporarily stop new ones, they are still essentially the only way to solve overloaded transport infrastructure in cities. In Canada, rail transport is also an important sector in the field of transportation of mineral resources (oil, coal and others). Annually, up to 17% of the total weight of these raw materials is transported by railways, of which a full 54% is transported by coal.
The demand for material for the construction of railway lines, maintenance, but also for train sets is high. There may also be opportunities in the field of integration of operating systems and ICT, as well as cyber security in railways as a critical infrastructure.