Interviewees: Mr. Denis Turcotte, Quebec Gov't LA Represenative together with Ms. Caroline Normandin, Director, Economic Affairs (Date: July 6, 2007; Place: Westwood, Los Angeles, California; Interviewer/Writer: Takahiro Miyao)
Summary of Mr. Turcotte's Interview
Our mission here in California is diverse, ranging from economic and investment purposes to cultural and public affairs. As far as economc matters are concerned, our main objectives are (1) to develop markets for Quebec products, such as Trader Joe's chain stores handling a lot of maple syrup, cheese and other products from Quebec, for example, and (2) to encourage US investments in Quebec, especially in such advanced fields as multimedia, energy, aerospace, defense, etc. From the Californian viewpoint, currently the hottest areas include optoelectronics and gaming.
In competing with other regions, Quebec has an advantage because of its excellent work force as well as safe and comfortable living conditions, especially in and around Montreal, with multi-cultural backgrounds. Nowadays, high quality labor force has become a more and more imporant factor for business decisions rather than simply low cost labor availability. In this respect, Quebec has been improving its competitive position in terms of education, research and immigration policies.
Here at the LA office with few staff members covering so many fields and so wide geographical areas, we must focus our efforts as pointed out above, while always keeping in mind that we in the public sector are working for the private sector to succeed by promoting a cooperative relationship between the public and the private sectors for the sake of Quebec citizens.
Finally, we often use the example of products "made in Japan" to illustrate the importance of branding and perception in promoting our own products. The meaning of the word "made in Japan" has completely been changed since the 50s and 60s, due to the high quality of Toyota and Honda automobiles these days. We are trying to change our perception in the US, following Japan in this regard. Reference: Quebec Government Office Los Angeles: http://www.quebec-losangeles.org/
Interviewee: Mr. Mohan Patel Representative Director, Investissement Quebec-Japan Office (Date: June 14, 2007; Place: Delegation Office of Quebec Government; Interviewer/Writer: Takahiro Miyao)
Summary of Mr. Patel’s Interview
My relationship with Japan dates back to my childhood years, as I used to live in Kobe with my parents who came from India to do business in Japan. Then, I moved to the U.S. for education, then to Montreal, Canada, before being hired by a Japanese trading company, which sent me to their Tokyo office. That was in the 1980s and stayed with that company until 2003. Those were exciting years, when I made a lot of personal as well as business connections, some of which I am now trying to reestablish for my current work.
I am now working for “Investissement Quebec” (or "investment Quebec"), which is a government organization with its president-director general originally from the banking industry. In fact, Investment Quebec might be regarded as a combination of an economic development agency and a bank. But it is different from a purely private bank, because inducing foreign investment into Quebec is not a short-term job with profit orientation, but will require long-term efforts and commitment. This is why the government is behind it, and we are trying our best to obtain good results, hopefully satisfying even commercial criteria.
Of course, there is strong competition in attracting Japanese investment to North America. It comes from the U.S. as well as other Canadian provinces. Having lived in Montreal and elsewhere, however, I can clearly present to potential investors a number of merits and advantages that Montreal and other cities in Quebec possess. For one thing, we have low-cost and high-quality electricity available to business. Second, we have a strong IT industry, especially in the multi-media field. A related point is the strength of our universities and research institutions which are producing good human resources with creativity and often multi-language skills. This means that if you come to Quebec to set up your base in North America, you will also be able to explore the European market through Quebec with its people, language, and culture close to Europe. These are some of the specific advantages that Quebec possesses over other regions in North America, I believe.
From the Japanese companies’ viewpoint, I can also see some more advantage in employing people in Quebec, because they generally prefer to stay and enjoy life within Quebec, rather than moving around for better economic opportunities as in America and other Canadian provinces. This means that Japanese companies could develop a long-term relationship with each employee for mutual benefit more easily in Quebec than anywhere else in North America. Therefore, my task is to let Japanese businesspeople be aware of these advantages by holding a series of lectures and seminars about investment in Quebec. At the same time, an important thing is to find those companies that are actually planning to expand their operations overseas, especially in North America. In any case we need sustained, constant efforts in this regard, and that is why I am here in Tokyo to represent the public organization, Investment Quebec. Having lived on the both sides of the world, I feel this is a very gratifying job for me. References: Investment Quebec (English): http://www.investquebec.com/en/index.aspx? Investissement Quebec (French): http://www.investquebec.com/fr/index.aspx