Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Port Metro Vancouver, in Vancouver. Canada-U.S. trade friction is a major concern among Canadian executives.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

Global chairman, consumer and retail, KPMG International and national leader of consumer and retail at KPMG in Canada

This quarter's C-Suite Survey is a pendulum of opinions. While respondents remain optimists about their own business prospects, they also show growing concern over the larger economy, particularly around interest rates, trade friction and the impact of U.S. President Donald Trump's policies.

For instance, the majority of the C-Suite are worried about the implications of politics on trade and trade agreements. Seventy-five per cent believe major changes to the North American free-trade agreement are at least somewhat likely. And overall confidence in the U.S. President's performance has waned by almost half since last quarter.

Story continues below advertisement

On the other hand, some see a potential "brain gain" of talented U.S. immigrants should some U.S. policies currently being bandied about come to pass. Many are also confident our value as a U.S. trade partner (nine million U.S. jobs hang in the balance with Canada, the leading trade partner for 35 states and the United States over all) will soften the NAFTA blow. Reopening NAFTA could also resolve numerous endemic challenges, such as unwieldy dispute resolution mechanisms and U.S. complaints about Canadian agricultural marketing boards.

C-SUITE SURVEY: Business leaders unenthusiastic about prospect of interest rate hikes

READ MORE: Business leaders comfortable with low loonie, wary about rate increase

RELATED: Nearly nine in 10 Canadian executives worries about U.S.-Canada trade under Trump

Despite the optimism, however, concerns remain. Although one-third of the executives surveyed expect strong business growth and the majority anticipate moderate growth, they remain concerned about the potential business impacts of geopolitical uncertainty and commodity prices. They also fear rising interest rates could limit access to capital, affect debt repayment and increase borrowing costs.

Concerns also surround NAFTA. If the agreement is reopened, it's unlikely that all issues can be resolved amicably. While executives are inclined against any sort of trade war, the majority are willing to fight U.S.-imposed softwood-lumber duties. Fifty-nine per cent even advocate implementing a "Buy Canadian" policy as a retaliatory measure should the United States enact its "Buy American" provisions.

Yet, the biggest worry of all may still be under the radar. According to recent reports, Canadian businesses continue to undervalue technology disruption let alone geopolitical or demographic disruption.

Story continues below advertisement

Whether apprehensive or confident, political unpredictability warrants caution for Canadian businesses. It also underscores the imperative to act. Notably, more than 90 per cent of Canada's C-Suite strongly or moderately support joining other signatory countries to the Trans-Pacific Partnership in a free-trade agreement, while 86 per cent say the same about China – none of which will ultimately diminish the United States' and Canada's relationship as the close, top trading partners and allies across the world's largest undefended border. However, it strongly highlights the C-Suite's view that the current political climate should be a wake-up call that Canada can't put all its eggs in the U.S. trade basket. We have and produce much more than 35 million people need, and our agreement with the European Union should be a template for trade on the global stage.

To truly thrive into the future, Canadian businesses must look beyond trade policies to become more globally competitive. The opportunities presented by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, mobility, automation and analytics are significant, and could help mitigate economic risk and drive competitiveness. Failure to keep pace with this revolution is akin to getting so distracted by the weather that you miss climate change: NAFTA tweaks and microadjustments in rates won't matter if we let the opportunities of technological disruption pass us by.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies