Asia Pacific Gateway - Preparing for the Gateway: Next Steps

The Asia Pacific Gateway Strategy can be seen as a guiding framework for future policies, investment and initiatives that will lead to greater economic, political and cultural ties with Asia. The Gateway strategy needs to be supported by and through all levels of government, academic institutions, the private sector, civil society and Canada's Asian partners. It requires and proscribes future policies, investments, governance structures, engagement with civil society, and research and analysis.

The concept of Gateway can be over-burdened as well as under-burdened. Although Gateway is an overarching and broad initiative or idea, it must be broken down into smaller, specific initiatives that can be realistically acted upon. Instead of focusing on building consensus around every aspect and level of the Gateway initiative, all stakeholders involved should pragmatically pick pieces and issues to address, and thus work toward incremental success in developing the many aspects of Gateway.

In general, there seems to be a tension between development and regulation. There is an overall sense in industry that there is currently over-regulation in the fields of transportation, infrastructure, finance and environment, and that this is an impediment to achieving much of the transportation and infrastructure improvements that the Gateway needs. However, Canada's appeal in Asia is largely lifestyle, natural beauty and governance structures, which often demand regulation. This tension should be re-examined in light of Gateway initiatives.

 

ACTION LIST

Policy Reforms

A series of policy changes and improvements have been identified that would help achieve Gateway objectives:

  1. Trade/Infrastructure: reduce transportation congestion in the Lower Mainland; further develop the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert; adjust and align provincial and federal taxation policy regarding transportation and infrastructure use; streamline government regulation for land use/zoning.
  2. Finance: reduce taxation on financial institutions.
  3. Education: curriculum changes to include more education on Asia, Canada's Asian heritage, and Asian languages; more government-sponsored exchange programs and academic linkages with Asia.
  4. Immigration: improve processes for workers to immigrate here: allow students to stay here longer than the current one-year post graduate work permit allows; develop ways to constructively use the Canadian diaspora in Asia; improve the flow of business people across borders; strengthen border security.
  5. Environment: simplify and speed up environmental assessment processes, yet ensure the Gateway is sustainable and with minimal ecological footprint.

 

Investment

  1. Trade and transportation infrastructure (ports, airports, roads, bridges).
  2. R&D in IT, bio-technology.
  3. Education: Asian language courses, curriculum changes to incorporate more education about Asia.
  4. Cultural and public initiatives: exhibitions, workshops, seminars, and competitions to promote and support the Gateway initiative.

 

Governance

  1. The Asia Pacific Foundation was identified as a major player in the Gateway initiative, and as the intellectual centre and creator of innovative Gateway ideas. APF Canada should play a leadership role, and partner with government and other organizations to push the Gateway agenda forward.
  2. All levels of government should work within their own structures to implement the Gateway agenda.
  3. The public and private organizations involved in the Gateway strategy should meet regularly to ensure their voices and perspectives are unified in their respective strategies and as they lobby for new and changed policies.
  4. Ride the wave of upcoming events to raise awareness and create momentum for the Gateway initiative:
    1. Summer Olympics, Beijing (2008);
    2. 150th Anniversary of BC (2008);
    3. World Expo, Shanghai (2010);
    4. Winter Olympics, Vancouver (2010).

 

Engagement with civil society/Communication and marketing

  1. Harness the imagination, experience, and perspective of international youth through competitions and events.
  2. Hold competitions and exhibitions to engage the public with ideas of Gateway and Asia. For example:
  3. Hold a public event promoting design centred around one material (e.g. copper) with a Gateway theme that engages industry, artists, ecologists and architects.
  4. Hold an essay, audiovisual, architecture, sculpture or design competition about the Gateway concept.
  5. Hold another convening seminar to discuss ways to engage the public.
  6. Hold Gateway seminars in other parts of Canada to engage other benefactors/stakeholders of the Gateway.
  7. Hold Gateway seminars in Asian cities, the customers, users and other side of the Gateway.
  8. Identify all civil society and public stakeholders and engage them. Ask them to identify what Gateway means to them (this approach is being used successfully by the Olympic organizing committee).
  9. Hold more cultural and academic exchanges to import more Asian culture and ideas.
  10. Hold a branding exercise to brand the notion of Gateway both domestically and internationally.
  11. Build an icon such as a building or sculpture, that embodies the Gateway and that will help create a unified Gateway identify in Vancouver and the rest of Canada.

 

Research agenda

  1. Further identify specific advantages Canada and Vancouver have in various sectors: environmental technology and services, education, tourism and R&D.
  2. Research ways to identify, engage, and use the culturally and linguistically diverse human resources Vancouver and Canada offer.
  3. Benchmark perceptions, attitudes, and levels of awareness about Gateway and Asia year after year through polls, survey or focus groups.

 

Measurement

There needs to be a strong results orientation to the entire Gateway initiative and all its components, including for example:

  1. Basic and observable "volumetric" progress in tonnage handled, passenger flow, student inflow etc;
  2. Micro impacts such as customer satisfaction indicators, profitability through lower transaction costs, improved sourcing options, security of intellectual property, business facilitation and market access enhancements; and
  3. Macro impacts on national and regional GDP growth registered, market share for imports and investment enhanced, employment sustained or expanded, regulatory frameworks streamlined, knowledge linkages established with impact on productivity improvement etc.

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