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The technology industry is made up of skilled workers from all over the world, and the success of this industry largely relies on the ability to share and develop different ideas. When countries enforce strict immigration laws, or prevent travel in and out of the country, it hinders the technology industry. This is pertinent considering the possible changes in immigration laws in the United States under the Trump administration which may include reducing visas, increasing deportation, and focusing efforts on what used to be considered sanctuary cities. Multiple technology companies have expressed complaints with these policies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Apple.

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Canada appears to be taking the brunt of political and economic uncertainty occurring in North America. A potential renegotiation of NAFTA, US tax cuts, and a weakening oil and gas industry are leaving investors wary of future economic growth in Canada. This speculation appears to be a reality for Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who forecasted an average annual growth of 1.7% between now and until 2022. This is a rapid change of events for the country, who saw 3.7% economic growth in the past year and the jobless rate hitting a record low.

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This is the second post in a five-part blog series focused on the consumer products industry.

Adaptability, innovation, and differentiation are three important qualities consumer product (CP) companies must uphold in order to be successful in the ever-changing global market. The North American market upholds these ideas well through adapting technological improvements and having a good feel for the market climate. In turn with these abilities, the countries also work well with meeting the demands of their consumers, working through consolidating markets and executing strategies proficiently.

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The United States is Canada’s number one trading partner, and Canada is America’s second largest. However, to what extent does the amount of trade between these two nations span? The Great Lakes Region is composed of the two Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and the eight states of Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. The Gross Domestic Product of the Great Lakes Region is $6 trillion, which means that if the region were a country, it would be the third largest economy right behind the United States and China. $278 billion dollars of bilateral trade is generated in the Great Lakes Region each year, and there is a highly integrated supply chain in order to sustain such a massive amount of exports and imports.

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The first round of NAFTA renegotiations between the United States, Canada, and Mexico concluded in Washington this past Sunday. Trade representatives from each country began to lay out their goals for a probable update of NAFTA policy. The 24-year-old trade bloc, which was established to eliminate barriers among its three trade partners, has garnered intense backlash in recent years. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a third of U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost since NAFTA was first established. In addition, NAFTA has caused Mexico to lose 1.3 million farm jobs due to removed tariffs that rendered Mexican farmers effectively noncompetitive.

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On April 26, United States President Donald Trump announced plans to "re-negotiate" the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. As related in a White House press release, the administration had intended to completely withdraw the U.S. from the trade deal, but was dissuaded from doing following conversations with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Peña Nieto. At present, NAFTA stands in its current form, although the U.S. has explicitly stated its desire for major changes to the trade deal. The situation is predictive of a potentially volatile future for NAFTA and trade relations between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

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Canada is the world's 12th largest coal producer, contributing close to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions overall. However, Canada plans to fully phase out coal power by the year 2030. Canada's largest province, Ontario, phased out coal power in 2014, so the remaining four provinces that still use coal-fired electricity will be the next in line.

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In North America, there are currently two very contradicting states between the Central Banks of Canada and the Federal Reserve of the United States. According to a senior central bank official, the Bank of Canada will not respond mechanically to any future move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. Deputy Governor Timothy Lane spoke to an audience in Waterloo, Ontario and stated that “tighter monetary policy in the U.S. would lead to higher market interest rates globally, producing a tightening effect for Canada.”

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Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., a corporation based in Quebec, is currently in talks to sell Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a company that manufactures gastrointestinal drugs. Valeant originally acquired Salix in March 2015 for $14.5 billion. The purchase was part of a growth strategy of buying pharmaceutical businesses with reputable products and cutting their research costs to maximize profits. However, Valeant lost much stock value over the past year due to unethical business activities, including price hikes, unreliable accounting, and secret collusion. Recently, the company undertook major efforts to change its leadership, settle its legal suits, pay off its debts, and re-establish growth. Selling Salix could be instrumental to these plans; just this week, news of the potential sale increased Valeant's stock by 34%. While prospective clients have been mostly kept anonymous, Japan's Takeda Phamaceutical Co. Ltd. has expressed public interest.

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For the past five years the European Union and Canada have been negotiating the terms of a comprehensive free trade agreement. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, would effectively eliminate 98% of tariffs between Canada and the EU, leading some experts to predict an increase in trade of over 20%. CETA was in its final form, with a signing ceremony scheduled for this Thursday, October 26th, but the deal was blocked at the last minute by Wallonia, the French speaking region of Belgium.

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In efforts to dominating the global mining industry, Canada has made tremendous attempts to promote mining overseas. With increased international mining initiatives, many Canadian corporations have been fueling their resources to expand globally. According to the Huffington Post, “Ontario-based Carube Copper said it acquired ‘over 500 square kilometers of the most prospective ground in Jamaica based on historic showings.’” 

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Chaos flooded the streets of Berlin. 80,000 protesters gathered, while up to 320,000 others held organized protests in seven other major German cities, to express their strong opposition to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US. In 2013, the EU and the US began negotiating a trade deal, hoping to create the world’s largest free trade market of 850 million consumers. The proposed deal promises to lower tariffs, and hopes to promote economic growth overseas. Protesters fear the deal will lead to an increase in outsourcing and unemployment, as it favors industrialized agricultural processes over non-GMO privatized food production. This prioritization would likely cost thousands of jobs and could potentially compromise food safety and employment standards.

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On July 11, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman together signed the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA). The agreement, signed in Kiev, is meant to further improve market access between the two countries, settle trade conditions, create jobs, and cement their status as allies. The Canadian government has been a fervent supporter of Ukraine ever since the nation's first clashes with Russia, which left Ukraine in war-torn, economically faltering conditions. Talks for CUFTA between the two countries had been going for months before final negotiations wrapped up last year. Now, the confirmation of CUFTA signifies Canada's continued support of Ukraine in the face of its struggles.

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On Wednesday, United States President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will meet in Ottawa for the annual North American Leaders' Summit. The meeting, commonly referred to as the Three Amigos Summit, has gathered almost every year since 2005 to discuss strategic cooperation and important economic issues. This year's meeting in particular will prove to be of high significance. The primary objective of the 2016 Summit is to develop clean power plans for each country in the continued combat against climate change. However, recent political developments may cast a shadow over this year's talks.

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Wildfires in Canada have halted oil production, causing oil to drop for the fourth day in a row, making this the longest stretch of declining oil in over a month. Around 1 million barrels a day were halted due to the continuous wildfires over the course of May. The 5,000 square kilometer forest wildfire, nicknamed “the beast” has taken many shifts in directions, which has caused these fires to be more difficult to contain. However, municipal authorities in Alberta stated on May 20th that conditions were improving and mandatory evacuations orders for seven oil-sands worker camps have been lifted, and operations are underway again.

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Oil prices dropped by 42% in 2014, and hit a five and a half year low on Monday. Many analysts are projecting that the price of oil is only going to continue to decrease in the near future. This drop in oil prices is having a drastic effect in a multitude of sectors of the economy, all across the world. What is causing oil prices, which have continually risen in the past decade, to suddenly crash? There is not a single source of this crash, but rather a plurality of causes.

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On February 19th, President Barack Obama flew to Mexico to meet with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, approximately twenty years after the three nations had signed NAFTA. The goal of the Toluca summit was to attempt to reduce trade frictions and come to agreement on trade conflicts between these countries. Issues discussed included Obama's trade executive order, the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, the "trusted traveler" program, updating NAFTA, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is a trade agreement between twelve countries, including China, Japan, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Peru. This agreement, if ratified, would eliminate almost all trade barriers between these twelve countries, uniting them in the largest free-trade zone in world history. The problem is, it doesn't seem to be getting approved anytime soon; talks that occurred just last week in Singapore ended with the countries reaching no finalized agreement that would put the TPP into effect. As the partnership has been undergoing negotiation talks for years, it is wondered how much longer it will take for the countries to cooperate on certain final issues and establish the partnership.

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As the world becomes increasingly globalized, workers from around the world are experiencing increased opportunities to work abroad. This is exactly what is occurring in Canada. As the province of Alberta continues to boom economically, Canadian companies are in need of a labor supply. With too few Canadians to fill the extra jobs needed, Canadian firms have begun recruiting internationally. The international recruiting strategy has been very successful as Canadian companies were able to find an abundant supply of workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland. This development in Canada is a testament to the many benefits of international business.

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England, the third largest economy entity in the euro zone, is facing difficulties on its way to economic recovery and is seeking help from a Canadian governor. Taking the term from Sir Mervyn King, Mark Carney became the new governor of the Bank of England (BE) with hopes of bringing a breath of fresh air to the British economy. Before entering Carney’s time in charge, let’s take a glance at the British economy and predict the future trends under Carney’s lead.

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For the most part, my pennies spend most of their time collecting dust in either the bottom of my wallet or in the cup holders in my car. Apparently Canada, among other countries like Australia, Brazil and Sweden, has had enough with the cumbersome coins as well. As of February of 2013, Canada officially ceased distributing pennies, considering the cost of manufacturing them is even more than the worth of the penny. Should the United States and the U.K. follow in Canada’s footsteps and eliminate the penny?

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Latin America, a region once plagued with high inflation, has seen a drastic shift in spending and consumption trends in the past decade. This shift of consumption has been due to multiple factors, particularly the economic boom and declining poverty of the region. In the past decade, 50 million people in Latin America have joined the middle class according to a World Bank study.

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Foreign and domestic investment are spiking for Canadian Corn because of global warming and a drought in the Corn Belt region of the United States.  Climate change and the resulting increase in temperatures in the last 50 years have extended the growing season in Canada’s Prairie Provinces approximately two weeks.  The Prairie Provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have long been big producers of wheat, but are now beginning to incorporate and in some cases completely switch to corn.  This is due to a decrease in corn supply in the drought-ridden Midwest region of the United States, high demand for the crop, and the fact that corn has a higher yield than wheat on a per acre basis.

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In an effort to develop closer trade ties with China, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in Beijing last week.  Canada’s goal is to continue to increase its trade with China in hopes of decreasing its reliance on trade with the United States.  This goal especially relates to the oil industry and Canada’s effort to overcome the increasing environmental regulations being imposed by the United States.  Canada sees China as a solid alternative for trade because of its vast market size and high demand for foreign oil.

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Forbes has just released its list of "Best Countries for Business" and this year Canada has reached the top. Canada jumped up from last year’s number 4 spot to claim the top spot on the list. Countries were ranked based on 11 key factors including “property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance.” Through a variety of reliable sources, Forbes was able to evaluate countries based on these characteristics and rank the countries in order of business attractiveness.

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A new report by KPMG is claiming that the clean technology sector is a strong force in the economy of several Canadian provinces, including British Columbia. The report says that clean tech firms will directly generate over $2.5 billion for the economy in 2011, not including other economic benefits created by these companies. This is a 57% increase from 2008. The growth is not expected to slow either; KPMG has stated that the sector will grow 16.5% to 8,400 employees in 2011.

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As the Trade North America Conference continues, it is important to understand the nuances of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which make the implementation of NAFTA’s goals possible. One of the largest barriers to getting the agreement passed, and which still creates issues today are the legal issues surrounding the agreement, as well as how it deals with the differing legal systems of each of the countries involved.

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Why should a small business enter the Canadian and Mexican market? There are a plethora of opportunities in both countries. From a United States perspective, they are the largest foreign investor in Canada and the most popular destination for Canadian investment. The U.S. exports to Canada exceed their exports to the entire European Union. Mexico isn't far behind with the second largest market in the world for U.S. exports. In 2007, U.S. and Mexico two-way trade exceeded one billion dollars a day. I will briefly discuss both the challenges, potential, and strategies for entering both the Canadian and the Mexican market.

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The Trade North America Conference, happening in Detroit this week, is a great opportunity for the Midwest regional business community to learn about today’s trade climate. Underscoring the importance of the event, Undersecretary of Commerce, Dennis Hightower and former Governor of Michigan, John Engler will be speaking. The focus of the conference is to equip businesspeople with information which will enhance their ability to successfully export products to Canada and Mexico.

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What do you do when your cell phone company changes its prices in the middle of your two year contract? If you terminate your contract, you will be charged and you cannot simply say "no" to the changes. Some companies promise fixed rates while the contract lasts; however, in many countries in the world, companies have a policy of "prices are subject to change". The reason why a cell phone company would decide to raise prices is in the hope to make a bigger profit - you either pay the high price or you pay the charge to cancel. However, this is where they go wrong.

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Check out this ranking of the top MBA programs outside the US, from BusinessWeek. Just in case you're curious, here are the contenders:

  1. Queen's University, in Canada
  2. IE Business School, in Spain
  3. INSEAD, in France
  4. University of Western Ontario, in Canada
  5. London Business School, in the UK
  6. ESADE, in Spain
  7. IMD, in Switzerland
  8. University of Toronto, in Canada
  9. IESE, in Spain
  10. Oxford University, in the UK

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Passport requirements have been a complicated issue for travelers in North America. Starting June 1, 2009, new travel requirements will be implemented by the USA which will consequently have an effect on Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and 17 nations in the Caribbean region. The WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) will require all persons to present a valid passport when entering the USA by land or sea. As of 2007 these requirements have been in effect for air travel. Because of a friendly border crossing agreement, the Canada Border Services does not require U.S. citizens to present a passport when driving to Canada. This agreement used to be mutual, however the USA wants to strengthen border security and standardize travel documentation.

These new regulations will have a tremendous economic effect on the involved nations. Canada will feel the change more strongly than the USA since a bigger percentage of Canadians have passports compared to Americans. The changes will not affect business travel as much as leisure trips. Niagara Falls, Windsor, Toronto, and Montreal are among some of the most visited places in Canada. Furthermore, the summer is a popular period for many who live close to the border to go on camping trips in Canada. During the summer of 2009, however, there will probably be a huge decrease in travel. The WHTI is expected to lower U.S. travel receipts by close to $800 million (compared to data from five years ago) in the two years following full implementation. Furthermore, according to a report prepared by The Conference Board of Canada, U.S. travel to Canada is expected to fall by approximately 3.2 million trips and the Canada-USA trips by 7.4 million. This report however was prepared at a time when the world was not facing a financial crisis. Consequently, it is now expected that travel would fall by even bigger numbers.   

Tourism in North America will most likely face a not so profitable season this summer while travelers try to find their way through the confusion of new travel documents.