Nearly 3 million Canadians live and work abroad. Many of them are highly educated, highly skilled, and highly connected. They are a vast untapped resource for trade and export development. Transformations in the global economy – and Canada’s place in it – make it more important than ever to consider the role of expatriates in the Canadian economy.

Canada is now facing our deepest trade deficits in three decades. In emerging giants like China and India, our share of the import market has not kept pace with economic growth – or with our competitors.

Canadians live and work in these countries. They have personal and professional networks that benefit Canadian businesses seeking a toehold overseas. How can we, as a country, make better use of Canada’s talent abroad?

Our Task Force proposal begins to answer that question. We propose an international business network for Canada, to connect successful, well- placed Canadian expats with Canadian businesses, for mutual benefit.

Other jurisdictions – including Australia, Chile, and Scotland – have build powerful networks of their citizens abroad, which they use to expand trade and investment opportunities, enhance business development, and advance their interests. Canada should do the same.

Many Canadians abroad are in a position to make connections, broker deals, and offer advice. Our Task Force proposal would give these talented Canadians a chance to connect to Canada, and help build the future of our economy.

To study the issue, a morning conference titled Where in the world is Canada? Building a global network of Canadians Abroad will be held Friday, January 14, 2011 from 8 am to 9 pm 30 at the Ontario North room of the MacDonald Block, 900 Bay Street, Toronto.

This project has been undertaken pursuant to an Action Canada fellowship. Action Canada Foundation, doing business as Action Canada, is a registered charity with a mandate to build leadership for Canada’s future.  www.actioncanada.ca    Neither the contents nor the conclusions of this publication have been endorsed or approved by Action Canada Foundation, Action Canada or the Government of Canada.