Finance minister of the year 2009: Jim Flaherty, Canada
The finance minister has enhanced his country’s reputation for sound fiscal policy that takes full account of social justice, while a strong regulatory regime has kept the financial sector out of the chaos. Helen Avery reports.
WHEN JIM FLAHERTY, Canada’s minister of finance, visited China in January 2007, his reception was tepid. The visit was overshadowed by human rights debates, and each country’s commitment to invest in the other was questioned. "I was told that the Canadian banks were too hesitant," says the minister. Fast forward two and a half years and a worldwide banking crisis, and the minister’s welcome in China in August was significantly warmer. Indeed, Canadian exports to China increased 6.8% during the first five months of this year. Canada, with its resource-rich economy, is a key trading partner of China, and Flaherty is credited with improving international trade relationships.
Sherry Cooper, global economic strategist at BMO Financial Group, says: "No sooner had the minister encouraged China’s state-run companies to invest in Canadian resource companies [during his August visit] than state-controlled Jilin Jien Nickel Industry made a surprise $148.5 million unsolicited takeover bid for Canadian Royalties, which is developing the Nunavik nickel project in northern Quebec."