TORONTO, Jan. 14 /CNW/ - Scotiabank President and Chief Executive Officer
Rick Waugh today called for an overhaul of policies to bolster Canada's
international competitiveness and urged both government and business to tackle
these challenges as a key priority.
"Canada needs to orient a range of policies - market structure,
competition, investment, trade - toward strategic sectors and the ability of
firms to succeed as truly global competitors," Mr. Waugh said in the Bank's
submission to the federal government's Competition Policy Review Panel. "At
the same time, Canadian businesses need to be more aggressive in their pursuit
of growth opportunities abroad."
Mr. Waugh recommends that the government eliminate the specific ownership
limits for banks and rely on the Finance Minister's discretion to assess
potential foreign bank investments.
"Eliminating the sectoral protections in financial services could
increase the competitiveness of the market and maintain the legitimate goal of
Canadian ownership of the banking system which, as in other jurisdictions,
does not imply that all banks have to be Canadian owned," he said.
The Bank's submission praises the government's management of Canada's
economic fundamentals, but indicates there is an important opportunity for
domestic policymakers to take a global perspective in developing legislation
and regulation to drive greater international competitiveness.
"There must be a far greater recognition of consolidation and other
processes of global commerce in our domestic policy," Mr. Waugh said. "As a
smaller economy, we have to play to our strengths and build on strategic
sectors and focus on priority markets."
Scotiabank's submission also expresses support for the Canadian
government's pursuit of bilateral and regional trade agreements, recommending
that the current trade and investment focus of the federal government on the
Western Hemisphere become a long-term strategy.
"This means a stronger push, not only in trade and investment
initiatives, but across Canada's foreign policy, for more integrated
relationships in North America, Central and South America and the Caribbean,"
Mr. Waugh said.
In response to the Panel's inquiry about whether Canadians should be
concerned about foreign takeovers of companies here, the Bank's submission
underscores the importance of viewing the debate around the "hollowing out" of
corporate Canada from a much broader perspective.
"Considering how volatile annual M&A activity is, we are struck by the
remarkable consistency in the fact that foreigners acquire larger companies in
Canada than Canadians acquire abroad," said Mr. Waugh. "Projected into the
future, the recent trend suggests that Canada could become an incubator for
global companies, which, by itself, will not be to Canada's long-term
A copy of the submission can be found on the Bank's website,
Scotiabank is one of North America's premier financial institutions and
Canada's most international bank. With more than 60,000 employees, Scotiabank
Group and its affiliates serve approximately 12.5 million customers in some 50
countries around the world. Scotiabank offers a diverse range of products and
services including personal, commercial, corporate and investment banking.
With $412 billion in assets (as at October 31, 2007), Scotiabank trades on the
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