Pierre Cléroux, the chief economist of the Business Development Bank of Canada, was channelling outgoing Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney in a presentation to Winnipeg bankers Tuesday.
In speaking to the Manitoba chapter of the Risk Management Association, Cléroux made the case that despite the fact the post-recession economies of the Western World are growing slowly -- and according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development will continue to grow slowly for the next 20 years -- there is plenty of growth in store for the global economy over that same time frame.
He noted the Paris-based OECD is predicting faster growth for the global economy over the next 20 years compared to the previous 20 years.
If that's the case, Cléroux said, then Canadian businesses should start paying more attention to those emerging economies.
"In Canada, 85 per cent of our exports are to developing countries and only eight per cent of exports go to emerging economies," he said.
His point was the growing middle classes in the developing countries will change the world economies and those are important opportunities for Canadian businesses.
That's very similar to one of the messages Mark Carney had in a speech to the Montreal Board of Trade Tuesday -- his last scheduled public appearance before departing for the Bank of England next month.
Carney said the Canadian government is correct in seeking out new trade deals, particularly in emerging economies, because they represent one half of the world's imports growth and also are essential to securing a position in global supply chains.
Cléroux said despite the OECD's forecast of slow growth in the European and North American economies over the next 20 years, growth in emerging economies creates many benefits for Canada.
For instance agricultural commodity prices have been rising and much of that is attributable to a growing global middle class -- expected to grow by one billion people over the next 10 years -- who are able to afford a more nutritious and expensive diet.
He said Manitoba is heading in the right direction, pointing out exports to China now make up 20 per cent of this province's total exports.
In addition to the changing patterns of global economic growth, Cléroux said there are two other dynamics that will change the world economy -- the aging population in the Western World and the increasing use of mobile devices.
The median age in Canada has gone up from 26 in 1993 to 39 today and he said in 20 years it will be 45.
"The fact that the population is aging will bring many opportunities and challenges," he said. "It will change the way we do business for sure."
As for mobile Internet usage, it is growing exponentially. Of real concern, Cléroux said, is Canada is lagging other developed nations in that only 17 per cent of its small and medium-sized businesses are even online today, never mind having a mobile application available. He said there are studies that show small businesses selling online generate greater revenues than those that aren't.
martin.cash@ freepress.mb.ca -- with files from The Canadian Press