Growing Export Markets by Immigration to Canada

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 2/10/2013 03:10:00 PM
Pro-migration voices like myself usually argue that the exchange of people is mutually beneficial for destination and source countries alike. Destination countries--usually wealthier Western nations experiencing declining birth rates--benefit from having newer workers joining the labour force whose activities help generate revenues to fund commitments made to previous generations. Meanwhile, source countries benefit from remittances sent and know-how gained by their migrants.

The Conference Board of Canada, however, has a novel addition to the benefits of migration: how about the destination countries growing their exports to the source countries of migrants in the process? HSBC Global Connections has a summary of the findings:
A recent paper, Immigrants as Innovators, published by the Conference Board of Canada, found a direct relationship between higher immigration and increased imports and exports from a particular country, a relationship that was independent of the wealth, geographic distance and language of the other country. A 1% increase in immigrants in Canada is associated with a 0.11 % increase in exports, which might not sound like much until you translate the figure into dollars.
Why does this happen? In the past, emphasis has been on the value of "learning English" as a source of migrants' eventual advantages. Consider, though, if the opposite holds true of them bringing their own unique languages, skills, and global networks to the benefit of Canada. A recent example is that of Filipinos who immigration rates to Canada lead all comers:
The report’s author Michelle Downie, senior research associate at the Conference Board, says immigrants have social and business networks, language skills and knowledge of their home culture that makes it easier for international relationships to form. “Businesses can put too much of a premium on Canadian experience—English-language skills and how people fit into Canadian culture—without considering the assets of the international experience immigrants are bringing,” says Downie.

The report offers the example of Filipinos, whose immigration rates to Canada rose faster than any other nationality in the last decade. “Between 1999 and 2008, the value of goods exported from Canada to the Philippines increased from $360 million in 1999 (in constant 2008 dollars) to nearly $560 million in 2008,” states the report. “The increase in the value of exports to the Philippines coincides with increases in permanent residents from that country.” 
Good stuff; the entire paper is downloadable from the Conference Board of Canada after registering online. To paraphrase an American leader from when the US was still more envied than pitied, migrants ask not what their destination country can do for them, but what they can do for their destination country.