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Canada boosts cross-border interests, backs off consul

Canada has stepped up its efforts to promote cross-border investments but not enough to station a permanent representative in Las Vegas.

An economic officer stationed in the Los Angeles consulate recently came for a daylong get-acquainted session. A visit by Consul General David Fransen was to take place Friday. This comes after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs switched responsibility for Nevada in late September from the San Francisco consulate, where it had resided for several years, to Los Angeles.

"We are picking up the pace and getting out into the territory more frequently," said Carl Hartill, consul for political, economic and public affairs in Los Angeles. "We want to apprise people of Canada’s economic footprint and opportunities."

The Canadian influence includes 64 companies with a presence in Nevada. Canada is also the largest source of foreign tourists to Las Vegas.

Real estate brokers anecdotally report that Canadians have been buying second homes throughout the valley, taking advantage of the declining prices over the past couple of years and the rising value of the Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar.

But Canadian consulate officials don’t express much interest in placing at least an honorary consul in the city to add to a local lineup that includes honorary consuls from 24 countries.

"There is no consideration at this time for an honorary consul position," Hartill said.

"I think we are capable of meeting our objectives in Las Vegas with the resources we already have," he added.

That stems partly from the commercial emphasis of the Canadian presence. Many honorary consuls, as part of their duties, help nationals from their countries who run into trouble with the law or health. Canada, said Hartill, can address those matters from Los Angeles.

Honorary consuls also act as unpaid trade representatives. The Canadians maintain a professional staff in Los Angeles that will spend more time on the road. Already, they produce business summary sheets covering each of Nevada’s three congressional districts.

Canada has long ranked as the state’s second-largest export market after Switzerland, which buys very little besides gold.

According to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics, Canada bought $658.4 million worth of products made within the state, a 20 percent gain from 2006 but 13 percent lower than the peak two years ago.

Ores coming from mines have jumped tenfold in value during the last four years, while other categories have been a mixed bag. An assortment of manufactured products, the No. 2 category, has moved up an down and electronic products, the third-largest segment, has dropped by half this year.

Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at toreiley@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290.

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