Should Calgary be a sister city of Perth?

June 20, 2013 / By  

The Sister Cities movement traces its origins back to 1956 when US President Eisenhower proposed a people-to-people citizen diplomacy network in the United States of America. The Sister Cities International Organisation was, subsequently, formed in 1967.

The Sister City program enables citizens to become directly involved in international relations in a unique and meaningful way, brining long-term benefits to the local community and its partners abroad. Sister City relationships allow communities to exchange ideas, gain an international perspective and increase their understanding of global issues.

In addition to encouraging international peace and goodwill, many Sister City relationships go much further leading to economic growth, increased tourism and reliable business contacts. The City of Perth has Sister City Agreements with: Kagoshima, Houston, Rhodes, Megisti, San Diego, Vasto, Nanjing, Taipei and Chengdu.

Why should Calgary become Perth’s Sister City?

The Alberta economy, much like the Western Australia economy, is dependent on the resource and energy sectors. The energy sector in Alberta accounts for approximately one-quarter of the province’s GDP. The energy sector is the growth driver of Alberta, but the expansion of the energy sector has flowed through to other sectors of the economy. Statistics Canada states that Finance & Insurance and Real Estate Services (FIRE) sector employment in Alberta has grown by an average of 2.9% per annum between 2002 and 2012. There are now an additional 24,000 FIRE sector workers in Alberta – a high proportion of FIRE sector employment is located within downtown Calgary.

The expansion of the FIRE sector in Calgary is not insignificant. The bi-annual Global Financial Centres Index, produced by the Z/Yen Group was released in March 2013. I’ve been closely following the precipitous rise of one particular finance centre – Calgary. In 2009, Calgary was unranked in the study of 79 financial centres. The latest index ranks Calgary as the 17th most important finance centre in the world.

Calgary has seen an increase in energy related financial services activities including commodity trading, hedging and energy related derivative activities. A number of investment banks have opened a branch in Calgary over the past ten years, while Canadian retail banks have grown their operations in Calgary and Alberta more widely.

We are starting to see headcount growth in the investment banking sector in Perth. Credit Suisse moved out of a serviced office in late 2012 and leased 450 sqm. Furthermore, Goldman Sachs opened a small operation in mid-2012. There are only four countries in the world where Goldman Sachs has more than two locations – the US, China, Canada and Australia. These two investment banks join the likes of UBS and Deutsche Bank who already have a presence in Perth.

The next Global Financial Centres Index is released in September 2013. To make its inaugural appearance on the list, Perth will have to surpass an existing finance centre. The 79th ranked finance centre is Athens.

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