BY BILL PHILLIPS
Prince George is now a designated foreign trade zone point.
Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, made the announcement at the Wood Innovation Centre Friday morning.
“Prince George is becoming a hub of investment and growth in western Canada,” she said. “About 70 per cent of all proposed capital investments in British Columbia are expected to be made in this great region.”
So what exactly is a foreign trade zone point?
While there is no precise definition of what constitutes a foreign trade zone, the term generally refers to a specific location within a country that is officially designated for eligibility for tariff and tax exemptions with respect to the purchase or importation of raw materials, components or finished goods. Such materials and goods can generally be stored, processed or assembled in the foreign for re-export (in which case taxes and duties generally would not apply) or for entry into the domestic market (in which case taxes and duties would be deferred until the time of entry).
The designation will certainly help the Prince George Airport’s ongoing push to make Prince George a refueling stop for international cargo planes.
“The designation will support businesses throughout the region,” she said. “Prince George will serve as a single point of access for business and investors seeking information about programs that relieve duties, tariffs, and taxes. This single point of access will help companies gain better access to foreign markets and global supply chains.”
She said it will make Prince George a hub for international trade while increasing the competitive capacity of western Canada.
She also announced federal funding of $335,566 for the City of Prince George to develop a clean technology cluster. This funding is being delivered through Western Economic Diversification Canada.
“Prince George has thriving clean tech community,” she said. “Through this funding Prince George’s clean tech cluster will be able to provide direct support to businesses to accelerate the industry in the region.”
The announcements are good news for the city, says Mayor Lyn Hall.
“Certainly, it’s something that’s going to have a positive impact on Prince George,” said Hall. “Having a foreign trade zone gives our business access to important trade programs which will help them compete better internationally.”
He added it will help Prince George’s reputation as a service and supply centre to attract new investors.
“This designation will only serve to bolster Prince George’s increasing reputation as an international city,” he said.
Clean tech, he explained, is any process, product, or service that reduces negative environmental impact through significant energy efficiency improvements, the sustainable use of resources or environmental protection activities.
“Enhancing our clean tech sector will increase Prince George’s capability and capacity to develop new environmental friendly tech products and services which are as good for our economy as they are for the environment,” he said.
A cluster is an area of business activity containing large and small companies and other innovation actors that helps attract foreign investment in Canada. They can create supply-chain benefits, increase collaboration, and drive competition and business specialization.