A new report by the influential Conference Board of Canada finds that immigration contributes to diversifying trade in provinces. The study looked at the relationship between immigration in the province of Saskatchewan, and the countries which Saskatchewan traded with.
It found that in Saskatchewan, having resident immigrants from a particular country was linked, at the provincial level, to more goods being exported to and imported from that country.
The study’s author believes that there are two ways through which immigrants affect trade: their preferences for native-country products leads to more imports, particularly from their native country, and their contacts in their native country, as well as their knowledge of that country, leads to both an increase in imports and in exports between their adopted country and their native one.
Looking at trade data from the years 2007 to 2011, the researcher found that “Saskatchewan is more likely to import goods from countries that have an increased immigrant presence in the province, regardless of the relative wealth, presence of a trade office, distance, or language spoken in that country”.
The analysis found that a 1 percent increase in the immigrant population is correlated with a 0.32 percent increase in the value of imported goods and a 0.36 percent increase in the value of exported goods.
The report proposes increasing immigration to create stronger trade links with the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and other countries outside North America, in order to diversify the sources of Canada’s economic growth and increase trade.