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Geopolitical uncertainty major barrier to growth: PwC CEO survey

Majority of Canadian CEOs express concern over the emergence of protectionist attitudes.

This year’s Annual Global CEO Survey reveals an optimistic outlook amongst Canadian CEOs and their global counterparts. Business confidence is up despite a number of uncertainties facing leaders around global geopolitical developments, technology advancements, a greater need for innovation and talent gaps in this increasingly digital world.

PwC’s survey found that 100% of Canadian CEOs (92% of global CEOs) are confident about the growth prospects of their organizations in the next three years, despite a slow-growth domestic economy and concerns and uncertainty about the new US administration, China and Eurozone developments.

Canadian CEOs also rank new strategic alliances and joint ventures, collaboration with entrepreneurs and startups and outsourcing as important enablers of future growth and innovation.

Geopolitical uncertainty was identified as the biggest risk to growth, with the majority of Canadian CEOs (59%), along with their global counterparts, expressing concern over the emergence of protectionist attitudes. The US is ranked as the most important growth market for Canadian CEOs given its expected strong economic performance. However, Trump and concerns over the future of NAFTA have created more uncertainty.

“In the wake of these challenges, Canadian business leaders face some tough decisions: should they look beyond the US for growth, and if yes, where? Do they focus on creating alliances and forge partnerships in order to tap into new talent, ideas and markets? The answers to these strategic questions will set the stage for long-term prosperity for Canadians,” the report states.

CEOs believe technology will completely reshape their businesses over the next five years. Meanwhile, the speed of technological disruption and its threat to traditional business models seems to be less of an immediate concern for Canadian leaders (54% versus 70% globally). Canadian leaders don’t view the hiring of people with innovation skills as a top priority (10% versus 23% globally).

This raises questions about how well prepared Canadian businesses will be to respond to disruption and changing consumer demands in a digital world, according to the report.

Transcontinental Media G.P.