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CEOs are confident about growth, but concerned about protectionism

Canadian CEOs are optimistic for 2017, but many agree it's going to be tougher to compete amidst growing protectionism.

February 16, 2017   by PLANT Staff

CEOs expect almost 80% of their business growth to come from the US. PHOTO: FOTOLIA

Despite many challenges that lie ahead, CEOs from around the world feel confident about growth prospects, according to a PwC survey of senior executives.

Canadian CEOs are among the optimists. More than a third (38%) are confident about growth in the next 12 months while 59% agree it’s tougher to compete amidst growing protectionism. They expect 79% of their growth to come from the US, despite concerns about what the Trump administration might mean for their businesses.

Fifty-nine percent of the Canadians are concerned about the impact of protectionism worldwide but 54% (versus 70% gobally) are less worried about the speed of technological change and its threat to growth.

Drivers of growth and profitability are ranked as new strategic alliances and joint ventures (74% versus 48% globally), collaboration with entrepreneurs and start-ups (49% versus 28% globally) and outsourcing (28% versus 17% globally).

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“It is a fairly optimistic outlook held by Canadian CEOs, in spite of increased uncertainty,” said Bill McFarland, CEO of PwC Canada.

But he warned this uncertainty may reinforce Canada’s already conservative business culture.

“There may be a tendency to be more risk averse as Canadians, along with many of their global counterparts, wait to see what changes in the new US government, China and the Eurozone will bring in an increasingly disrupted market,” he said.

He advised Canadian business leaders to look beyond the US for growth and create alliances and forge partnerships in order to tap into new talent, ideas and markets.

Most Canadian CEOs (89%) believe technology will completely reshape competition in their industries over the next five years, but they aren’t prioritizing innovation (10% versus 23% globally).

The speed of technological change isn’t seen as a significant threat to their growth prospects compared to their global counterparts (54% versus 70% globally).

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