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Cleantech considerations for the evolving Canadian economy – Business in Vancouver

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Canada is poised to become a world leader in exporting clean technology by 2025. 

Here in British Columbia, one of Vancouver’s top intellectual property lawyers thinks we could see a cleantech boom following the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of investment interest in cleantech as a consequence of COVID-19,” says Roch Ripley, partner and Head of the Intellectual Property Group in Gowling WLG’s Vancouver office.

Paired with the ongoing smoke in B.C. due to wildfires, which are becoming more frequent, climate change is staying top of mind.

“It has made people really think about the adaptation that they will have to make to deal with climate change. And because to actually deal with climate change successfully, we will need a lot of international cooperation that will be complex and expensive to fight something that is invisible, which is analogous to COVID-19.” 

Over and above climate change in particular, the recession caused by the global pandemic will prompt the government to jumpstart the economy by investing in cleantech more generally, Ripley adds.

In September’s throne speech delivered by the Governor General, the federal government announced their support for a fund to spur jobs and investments in green technology in support of reaching the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In addition, the CleanBC Industry Fund is already investing millions of dollars of carbon tax revenue into projects across the province.

“All of these reasons are going to point us towards a big surge in interest and investment in cleantech,” says Ripley, who has been monitoring the number of patent filings related to cleantech.

While there were a flurry of filings 6 to 7 years ago, generally speaking the rate of filing has decreased from that peak, with certain exceptions such as in electric vehicle and battery-related sectors.

Patent applications related to clean technology, renewable energy, and sustainable development will likely be on the rise in the years ahead. “The last cleantech-wide burst of activity we saw was related to government spending in 2008. If we’re starting the cycle, I would expect to see an increase in activity soon.”

Gowling WLG is one of the largest and most respected law firms in Canada, with a reputation for innovative, client-focused service. It offers a diverse suite of business law, litigation and intellectual property services in all of Canada’s key industries, and has a reputation for excellence in client advocacy before courts, tribunals, regulatory bodies and governments in Canada.

“What I’m most interested in is intellectual property and patents,” Ripley says.

“Successful cleantech companies almost without exception invest in patenting.”

Intellectual property and patent filings are crucial to cleantech companies for several reasons, Ripley says.

The first is the sheer cost of developing cleantech. The research, development and capital costs alone can reach into the millions of dollars to create the technology.

“In terms of the cost to protect your R&D investment, it makes sense to patent in the cleantech space,” Ripley says.

There is also the international aspect. With its position as a strategic gateway to Asia, Vancouver is quickly becoming known as a global cleantech hub.

“Considering international IP is a must. Because a lot of foreign markets are interested in cleantech, you want to ensure that you’re protected with international patent filings,” Ripley says.

Lastly, innovations in cleantech usually result in creating tangible equipment that can be sold and inspected.

“Generally speaking, if you’re selling in the market you can’t keep things a trade secret,” Ripley says. “The tangible nature of many cleantech products also means you don’t need to deal with issues that arise when trying to patent more abstract innovations, such as those based in software.”

“For those reasons, developing an innovation protection plan for your cleantech IP is crucial.”

Gowling WLG protects and enforces its clients’ intellectual property assets and helps them maximise their value at every stage of the business lifecycle

“The firm provides everything a company needs to succeed in terms of business-related legal needs,” Ripley says. “From starting your company to growing it, to getting acquired, to international expansion, all while keeping the strategic considerations that affect your business and your technology top-of-mind.”

To learn more about the services offered by Gowling WLG, visit the law firm online at gowlingwlg.com/cleantech.

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Australia bounces out of recession as economy grows 3.3% – Nanaimo News NOW

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“But the Australian economy has demonstrated its remarkable resilience and Australia is as well positioned as any other nation on Earth,” Frydenberg said. “Today’s national accounts represent a major step forward in Australia’s economic recovery.”

Before this year, Australia had managed to avoid a recession for 28 years. The economy grew even during the global financial crisis thanks to strong demand for Australia’s mineral exports and a robust domestic sector.

The better-than-expected figures were encouraging, economists said.

“The rebound in Q3 GDP reversed around 40% of the decline during the first half of the year and we expect output to return to pre-virus levels by mid-2021,” Ben Udy of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

Now on top of the pandemic, Australia is enduring a spate of rocky relations with China, its biggest trading partner.

Frydenberg said the situation with China is “very serious” but his government is focusing on striking deals with other countries in Asia and beyond.

“We have great produce, and we have great services, and we have great resource sectors, and I’m very optimistic about the opportunities for our exporters around the world,” he said.

Australia’s relationship with China worsened this week after a Chinese official tweeted a fake image of a grinning Australian soldier holding a bloodied knife to a child’s throat.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the image “repugnant” and demanded an apology from the Chinese government. But China has not backed down.

The post took aim at alleged abuses by elite Australian soldiers during the conflict in Afghanistan.

Tensions have been growing this year since the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the pandemic. China has imposed tariffs and other restrictions on a number of Australian exports.

Nick Perry, The Associated Press

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Plenty of booby traps on a path to economic recovery littered with unknowns – CBC.ca

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As the folk tales tell us, it is a fool who tries to please everyone.

But as the finance minister in a minority government that will one day soon have to face the electorate, Chrystia Freeland must do her best to satisfy a majority.

Critics, including some in the suffering airline industry, complained that this week’s fiscal plan does not spend enough on them. Fiscal conservatives worried about the deficit and wonder how Freeland will pay for what she has spent already. Pundits are already demanding to know details about how she will fulfil her plan to restart the economy once the coronavirus has been driven off by vaccines.

Despite Freeland’s tone of confidence, the disruptive impact of COVID-19 has generated many long-term uncertainties.

Even as she scrambles to solve current and pressing economic problems, the list of potential future pitfalls is long and the effects of each are highly uncertain. The problem — for her, for us and for business — is that this recession is so different from the economic crises we have suffered in the past. None of us know how things will turn out.

Borrowing is easy

Despite a projected deficit of more than $380 billion and a debt expected to soar past $1 trillion, Freeland, who is also deputy prime minister, has reassured Canadians that payments on that debt remain affordable. But just as in your own household, debt is notoriously easy to run up and hard to run down.

While interest rates are low now and the U.S. Federal Reserve — which strongly influences rates here in Canada — has promised to keep them low until the economy bounces back, market forces are telling us that long-term commercial interest rates are on the rise.

A broker in Mumbai, India. Markets have been a bright spot as the economy has weakened, but some fear share prices have become disconnected from the real world. (Shailesh Andrade/Reuters)

Extraordinarily low interest rates have led to extraordinary borrowing by governments, businesses and ordinary Canadians — and some say we are reaching the limit.

Some financial observers, including Martin Wolf at the Financial Times, have warned that the world may be on the cusp of a sudden shift from 40 years of falling to rising inflation. If that were to happen, governments and their central bankers would be forced to decide whether to quell it with higher interest rates in spite of the effect on their own borrowing costs.

While Freeland said that her spending will be based on long-term borrowing locked in at current low rates, costs could rise. Just as you must periodically renew your mortgage, each year governments and companies must go back to the market to replace their portfolio of existing bonds as they come due, and that must be done at the interest rate when they do it.

So long as interest rates stay low and the economy continues to grow, Canadian personal borrowing — which Equifax just reported has hit a staggering $2 trillion — is nothing to worry about. A lot of that debt is backed by high and rising house prices. But rising rates and falling house prices, or a continuing recession that leads to job losses, could make that debt unbearable, damaging a crucial motor of the Canadian economy.

300-year recession

Canada is a trading nation, and even if the domestic economy continues to tough it out, it will be hard to prosper if our trading partners weaken.

Last week the economy of the United Kingdom, with whom Canada is now negotiating a trade deal, plunged into its deepest recession in 300 years — forcing it to cut overseas aid to places that are even worse off.

Many countries around the world, including our nearest neighbour, continue to suffer from the economic impact of the pandemic — making things much worse than when a disaster hits a single part of the world, allowing other economies to help bail them out. Our trade partners may not be in a buying mood. Trade protectionism will be a temptation.

While economic growth slows and businesses go broke, among the bright spots have been financial markets that keep nudging new highs. Rising stock prices are cheering for those with cash invested, but there are growing fears that market darlings such as Tesla, up 600 per cent this year, may have become detached from the real economy.

A happy Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, arrives at a European awards ceremony in Berlin on Tuesday. The company’s shares have risen 600 per cent this year. (Hannibal Hanschke/Pool/Reuters)

Some analysts worry that the current casino mentality cannot be sustained and will lead to a reckoning. With interest rates already at rock bottom and borrowing already so high, preventing damage to the crucial financial markets from a new panic will be harder than during previous bailouts.

This gloomy list of long-term potential worries for the finance minister is only partial. Some fear disruption to education will lead to a news skills gap and put an even greater wedge between the rich and the poor. Others fear a crash in the value of commercial property will have a lasting effect.

Lower immigration, a loss of entry-level jobs in restaurants and retail and a long-term hollowing out of the economy are only some of the effects that could make things worse.

But rather than just make us sick with worry instead of sick with COVID-19, the point is that in the wake of a major recession of the kind the world is facing now, there is no way that Chrystia Freeland or anyone else — no matter how smart — can tell us with any certainty how the economy will unfold over the next few years.

WATCH | From education to jobs, how to manage the pandemic’s financial challenges:

Personal finance expert Preet Banerjee answers viewer questions about the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including saving for school with limited job opportunities and whether or not people should prepare for an economic depression. 3:22

What Canada needs is a capable person in charge, a safe pair of hands, to help us make the best of a perilous and unknown future.

And there is no reason that future could not also include a strong recovery as new businesses take advantage of plentiful labour, less expensive office and retail space and a flood of pent-up demand to come back even stronger than before the pandemic struck.

Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis

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After Biden Win, Nation’s Republicans Fear the Economy Ahead – The New York Times

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#masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one display: none

After Biden Win, Nation’s Republicans Fear the Economy Ahead

Polling shows that Republicans have turned bearish on the outlook for their family finances since the election, while Democratic optimism is rising.

  • Dec. 2, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

Optimism about the economy has taken a nosedive among Republicans. But the economy did not drive the change. The presidential election did.

After President Trump’s loss to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., more than 40 percent of Republicans who were polled for The New York Times said they expected their family to be worse off financially in a year’s time, up from 4 percent in October. Democrats expressed a rise in optimism — though not as sharp as the change in Republican sentiment.

The new polling, by the online research firm SurveyMonkey, reaffirms the degree to which Americans’ confidence in the economy’s path has become entwined with partisanship and ideology. In the days after the election, for the first time since Mr. Trump took office in 2017, Democrats and independent voters expressed higher levels of confidence in the economy than Republicans did.

Democrats in November were nearly three times as likely as they were in October to say they expected good or very good business conditions in the country over the next year. They were more than twice as likely as they were in October to say they expected “continuous good times economically over the next five years.”

Republicans were actually more likely to say that they were doing well in November, compared to October. But nearly three in four said they expected “periods of widespread unemployment or depression” in the next several years, up from three in 10 in October.

Nancy Veits, a Republican voter in Los Angeles County, said the economy was a major factor in her decision to vote for Mr. Trump. A retired small-business owner, Ms. Veits, 81, said that she appreciated the president’s commitment to deregulation — and that she feared for the economy after his departure.

“The economy was working,” she said. “I think that under Biden it’s going to be more difficult.”

David Keyston, a survey respondent in Waco, Texas, has a similar set of concerns. He runs his own nonprofit business distributing books about alternative health and healing. Business was good before the pandemic, he said, and has actually improved since the virus began to spread.

Mr. Keyston, 66, said that he didn’t like Mr. Trump’s penchant for Twitter or his demeanor in office. But he said he liked many of Mr. Trump’s policies, like his tax cuts and his promise to build a border wall and to keep the United States out of wars. And he said Mr. Trump had managed the economy well both before and during the pandemic.

“I think he’s tried under the circumstances to do the best he can to maintain some level of economic stability,” he said.

Now, Mr. Keyston’s outlook has turned more dour. He worries that Mr. Biden will impose new restrictions that will cripple the economy, including a nationwide lockdown, a charge that Mr. Trump repeatedly leveled against Mr. Biden, though Mr. Biden did not call for such a lockdown.

“A lockdown will kill this country,” Mr. Keyston said.

Big partisan shifts in confidence have become common following elections in recent decades. Republicans’ economic sentiment fell when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, then soared when Mr. Trump was elected in 2016. Republicans’ self-reported confidence remained well above Democrats’ for the entire Trump administration, until the election caused the pattern to reverse again.

“It reflects what we’ve seen in the survey data the whole time, which is that everyone is tying their own political beliefs to their views of the economy,” said Laura Wronski, a research scientist for SurveyMonkey. “It’s just kind of crazy to see how entrenched these beliefs are.”

Democrats’ views of the economy have also shifted after elections, but generally less than Republicans’, a pattern that was particularly stark this year. Ms. Wronski said enthusiasm among Democrats might have been tempered because they did not see the election as an unmitigated victory.

Janet Garrow, a survey respondent in Seattle, said that she thought Mr. Biden would do a better job with the economy than Mr. Trump, but that she didn’t expect a quick rebound from the pandemic-induced recession.

“I think the economic impact is devastating, and it’s going to take people decades to recover,” she said.

A retired judge, Ms. Garrow, 67, said her own finances are stable. But she said the economy wasn’t working for many Americans even before the pandemic.

“There was a lot of stagnation,” she said. “Sure, you might have had a job, but did your wage or your salary go up with what your cost of living really was?”

Ms. Garrow, a Democrat, said she supported many of Mr. Biden’s signature policy proposals, such as raising taxes on the wealthy and making public colleges free to students from middle-class families.

Perhaps more surprising, some of Mr. Biden’s proposals earn support from Republican voters. More than four in 10 Republicans support raising taxes on people earning more than $400,000 a year. Three-quarters of Republicans support a proposal to guarantee paid sick leave to workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Liberal economists with links to Mr. Biden say the results show the popularity of his plans and the challenges of reaching out to supporters of Mr. Trump whose economic hopes were low before he won the 2016 election.

“We live in a country where, for all of our lives, we have seen economic inequality increase — across incomes, across wealth, across firms,” said Heather Boushey, an economist whom Mr. Biden said on Monday he would name to his Council of Economic Advisers. “A lot of communities have been left behind. People have become frustrated.”

“One of the things about Donald Trump is he acknowledged that reality,” she said. “It would be important for people on both sides of the aisle to continue to acknowledge that.”

William Spriggs, the chief economist for the A.F.L.-C.I.O. labor federation, said that the polling reflected the “partisan politics” now embedded in economic confidence surveys, and that it offered a message to Mr. Biden on the importance of pushing for policies like paid leave that have attracted Republican opposition in Washington.

“We absolutely need it, on a zillion levels,” Mr. Spriggs said. “I think this is going to be the challenge for the administration — because things like this, which Americans understand are common sense, doesn’t mean it’s politically feasible. The Republicans who are in office thumb their nose at these polls. The issue is, will the administration take them on?”

George R. Hood, a survey respondent in northern Kentucky, said he identified as a political moderate, not a liberal. But he said the country needed to invest more in public health, education and other priorities, and he said it made sense to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy in order to pay for that spending.

“I just don’t see the socioeconomic situation improving unless we’re willing to spend a little more money,” he said.

About the survey: The data in this article came from an online survey of 3,477 adults conducted by the polling firm SurveyMonkey from Nov. 9 to Nov. 15. The company selected respondents at random from the nearly three million people who take surveys on its platform each day. Responses were weighted to match the demographic profile of the population of the United States. The survey has a modeled error estimate (similar to a margin of error in a standard telephone poll) of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, so differences of less than that amount are statistically insignificant.

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