As President and CEO of EDC, it’s my privilege to meet hundreds of Canadian exporters every year. These entrepreneurs are a constant source of inspiration.
The end of every year is that time when everyone is either making or reading about “year-end lists”—those rankings of celebrities, athletes, newsmakers and events—pretty much anything you could put “The Top 10…” before. The end of 2022 was no exception, and one of the lists that caught my eye was about new words that people around the world were using, words that captured the latest trends or signal events of the year. The one that emerged at the top of this list was a word that many people believed best described the times we’re living in these days. That word was “permacrisis.”
It’s a hard choice to argue with, especially in a time marked by the ongoing disruptions of a three-year-old global pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, global supply chains in disarray, chronic inflation, and an unprecedented litany of catastrophic climate events. Sounds like a “permacrisis” to me.
But whatever we call it, it also happened to be (in plainer language) “the business environment” in which tens of thousands of Canadian companies—many of them customers of EDC—continued to find global success: exploring new markets, meeting new buyers, innovating, creating, taking risks, growing their businesses and, along the way, expanding the Canadian economy.
The pages of this integrated annual report highlight many of the challenges those companies faced. And more importantly, in my view, this report also highlights the many inspiring successes that Canadian companies generated around the world. Companies large, medium and small, representing practically every Canadian industrial sector, headquartered in provinces across this country, and selling to customers in more than 150 markets globally.
These stories provoke in me two types of pride. First, there is pride in those companies and the people who lead them. As President and CEO of EDC, it’s my privilege to meet hundreds of Canadian exporters every year. These entrepreneurs are a constant source of inspiration. The second type of pride I feel is in the role EDC plays in making these stories happen. It’s a role that EDC is in a constant process of adapting and accelerating—something else you will read about in this report.
As 2022 came to an end, EDC was completing the second year of a 10-year strategy to help grow Canada’s exports by 60% by 2030. This would have the impact of adding about $150 billion in GDP to Canada’s economy. The 2022 report highlights the progress we’ve made in the key pillars of this strategy—how we have tailored support for companies by their size, from the smallest to the very largest; how we are focusing our efforts in those sectors that will play the strongest role in Canada’s future, such as advanced manufacturing, cleantech, agri-food and digital technologies; and how we are pursuing our regional strategy with an emphasis on the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Just as important as these growth strategies, there are the initiatives EDC pursues to elevate the way we and our customers do business, through our policies and commitments supporting the environment and climate action, good governance and social equity. By any measure, 2022 was a year of tremendous progress in all these areas as we worked to make Canada and the world better through trade.
There was another event that took place last year that I would be remiss in not noting—the retirement of our outstanding Board Chair, Martine Irman. Since before my tenure as president began, Martine’s leadership has been a model for all of us at EDC, a steady hand in a challenging time, and the truest supporter of EDC’s mission and mandate. I could not be more grateful for her many contributions and wise guidance.
With 2022 now in the past, its history captured in the pages of this report, it’s now time to look to the future. What, I wonder, will be the single word that describes the efforts of EDC in 2023? That’s a tough one, especially as we live in a world described with words like “permacrisis.”
There may be one word that I think I can nominate with some confidence, based on all the planning and dedication of the talented people whose work is represented in these pages. It’s a simple word, but the right one, I think, for a company whose mission is to help Canadian exporters find global success in the most uncertain of global times.
That word is “Ready.”
EDC President and CEO