B.C.’s Manufacturers Find Their Place in the International Marketplace

B.C. manufacturers are succeeding in a global economy

In spite of the challenging economy stemming from the energy sector, the non-energy sector—the category majority of B.C.’s manufacturers fall into—has a more promising outlook. 
B.C. manufacturers have a reputation of building high-quality items that tend to sell for a premium in countries like China. Local experts say this reputation provides a competitive advantage and allows manufacturers to penetrate into emerging markets.  
“Manufacturers are also acutely aware that controlling costs while continuing to produce high-quality products is critical to maintaining and enhancing their competitiveness in the global markets,” says Peter Veerman, manufacturing leader at Grant Thornton.
And any manufacturing company looking to gain that competitive advantage internationally will have the difficult task of educating itself on the business landscape of an unfamiliar market. 
“As manufacturers consider the opportunities in a number of these emerging global markets, there are several challenges that go hand in hand with those opportunities,” explains Veerman. “Challenges such as understanding the foreign supply chain, managing the impact of foreign currency fluctuations and anticipating the consumer preferences.”
Lower oil prices due to the increased supply has resulted in a prolonged reduction in oil prices and in turn a falling Canadian dollar. “This reduced Canadian dollar and the rebounding U.S. economy are factors that have created a more positive attitude and outlook for B.C. manufacturers,” says Veerman.
Canada’s lower dollar helps manufacturers to compete on the global market, and as a significant amount of B.C. manufacturers export to the U.S. and the global market, the lower dollar is positive.
Approximately 63 per cent of B.C. exporters are manufacturers.  
“There is also a government focus to level the playing field through trade agreements and efforts to diversify market access beyond the traditional partners, such as the United States, in places such as India and China,” says Veerman. 
“Manufacturers continue to enter into new product lines and strive for innovation in the manufacturing process. They continue to invest in employees and are focusing on increasing productivity through investments in innovation, which will have positive effects going forward.”
These initiatives will improve manufacturers’ ability to control costs and grow using tools such as e-commerce, Veerman adds. 
“E-commerce has evolved from a basic communication and transaction channel  between buyer and seller, to an end-to-end collaboration medium between all stake-holders,” he says. “This can be driven by companies looking to increase sales by offering online product recommendations and promotions to the customers. E-commerce also provides direct access to customers which in turn can result in higher profit margins and a better customer experience.”