In a context of scarcity of labor and the end of energy surpluses, Investissement Québec will have to “target surgically” the foreign investments it pursues, affirms the president of Investissement Québec International, Hubert Bolduc.
The financial arm of the Quebec government accompanied $6 billion in new foreign direct investment for the 2022-2023 fiscal year ended March 31, compared to $4.6 billion in the same period last year. This figure is three times higher than in 2018-2019.
“I think we are reaching the top of a curve, warns Mr. Bolduc, in an interview, as part of the unveiling of the results of Investissement Québec International, Friday. Definitely, it will be necessary not to slow down the efforts, but to target them surgically. »
In a context of scarcity of labor and the end of the abundance of electricity, Quebec will have to be more selective in its efforts to seduce. Mr. Bolduc gave the example of aeronautics, aerospace, life sciences, quantum computing and photonics as strategic sectors.
“You really have to go out and hunt down the companies that are missing from the ecosystems. I think that’s the signal we’re sending to the teams for the next, or even the next two years: do less in terms of volume, but be more strategic in terms of project quality. »
These comments echo those of the Minister of Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, who has already warned that Quebec should make choices in the allocation of energy blocks for possible industrial projects, because the demand exceeds Hydro-Québec’s energy capacity. This situation is unusual in the economic history of Quebec.
“It is certain that today, with the messages which are conveyed publicly by the government, we have more questions, comments Mr. Bolduc. […] The government will have to make choices and prioritize. I think that is well understood by the companies that knock on our door. »
Even if it seems to be spoiled for choice, Quebec remains in competition with other countries to attract the most promising projects. “In the field of drums, it’s incredible the competition we have,” underlines Mr. Bolduc.
Of the 78 reinvestment projects by subsidiaries of foreign companies already established in Québec, in 41% of cases Québec was in competition with other subsidiaries of the same group abroad. For the 45 projects that are new establishments, this threshold is 44%.
More “difficult” in China
At a time when diplomatic relations between China and Canada are strained, Mr. Bolduc recognizes that the situation is more “difficult” in China.
“Especially on the export side, we have less ambition to go to China. I think what happened from a diplomatic point of view marked the minds of Quebec companies. »
“On the other hand, we have nevertheless deployed relatively well in the rest of Asia: Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Singapore, he adds. So we adapted because there is still a lot of interest in Asian countries. »
Investissement Québec estimates that its support made it possible to generate the equivalent of $3.1 billion in exports for Québec companies, again for the fiscal year ended March 31. This estimate was $1.95 billion for the previous fiscal year. The United States remains the main export market for these new sales at 59%.
With the economic uncertainty, Mr. Bolduc feels that the mood of foreign companies is cautious, but he does not yet see the effect on the attraction of foreign investment. “It is certain that there are projects that normally we carry out more quickly, but there there is a little more waiting time. That said, when I look at the numbers, I can only see that we continue to attract more. »