Boosting British Columbia’s Exports to Asia: A Survey of BC Businesses

The rapid growth of Asian economies in recent decades represents a tremendous opportunity for British Columbia businesses. And yet there remains a gulf between the B.C.’s potential and current export performance in Asia. This is especially true for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which form the backbone of B.C.’s economy.

To gain a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges in exporting to Asia, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, with support from the B.C. Ministry of International Trade, conducted a survey of nearly 150 B.C. SMEs in late 2015. More than half of these companies currently export to Asia; for comparison purposes, the survey also included other B.C. exporters that are active in non-Asian markets. The key findings are as follows:

  1. Only half of B.C. SMEs use some kind of government or other service to help expand their operations in Asia.
  2. Making business-to-business connections with partners in Asia is a key priority for most companies.
  3. Country-level governance in Asia – political risk, regulations, intellectual property protection – is seen as a challenge.
  4. Employees with a background in Asia can be an important bridge to doing business in the region.

Note: This survey report was released along with an APF report on B.C. SMEs doing business in Asia, which can be found here.