A couple of things on that. I think the trade data that often gets quoted.... In economic literature there are lots of discussions around how accurate trade data is anymore, given global value chains. Every time I see a number like what we saw yesterday where the growth rate was that slow, we need to remember that it didn't take account of a lot of the interfirm movement of goods and also that what gets captured in trade flows is the point of final sale.
This is the famous example of the iPad, iPod or any of those products made in China that all get credited to China's export number because they do the final production there, but recognizing that a lot of the intellectual property, the software and the components are made in places like Germany and Scandinavia and, obviously, in the United States as well.
I think that's an area we need to get better at, moving away from those trade surpluses. Anybody who looked through the last year on trade data recognizes severe limitations in looking at the bottom number, and even a surplus and a deficit don't necessarily reflect good and bad at all times. I think that's a point on the data we need to get better on.
In government we often tend to look at how many clients we handled, how many people came into our offices for meetings or that we brokered meetings with others. I think that's a valid point because service to customers is critical, but in the end it's how many deals were closed as a result of those interactions. How many companies were able to land contracts? Those often don't happen that day. They may happen months later. I think we need to get better at tracking the economic performance indicators around that.
I was involved with the economic strategy tables. I led the sector at ISED that was responsible for running the secretariat. They pointed strongly to branding as another area that Canada needs to get stronger at. They noted we have great pockets on that, but the Canada brand remains an extraordinarily strong brand for companies. I have companies coming in all the time that have been able to benefit from that, but we use it inconsistently.
It's interesting because if you look at areas like regulations, companies are always coming in to raise regulatory issues, as was noted earlier. The regs are often the baseline for strong brands. If you look at health products, why do health products from Canada sell so well in markets in Asia, China and Africa, and why is a premium sometimes paid for them? It's because the Canada brand signifies the regulatory process, and the health and safety features of our system here that we take for granted, but it's an enormous benefit to firms.
That was one of the signature initiatives of the tables. I think that area, plus the increase in getting to the metrics around the effects we are actually having, are two areas I think we can do better at. I think in the spirit of what the minister was doing, like offering suggestions around where the committee could work, maybe identifying best practices of other countries that are reporting better on their interactions and their support, would be a really useful thing, and then strengthening the Canada brand.