One of the good things about Canada … and also one of its challenges … is our relatively small manageable population: 37 million.
Yet, over the massive sweep of this magnificent land …. 9.9 Million square kilometres (3.8 Million square miles) … we expect and, for the most part GET, a more civilized society than the United States, with equal or better living conditions, personal safety, education, generally well-developed infrastructure, better unemployment insurance, welfare and social and health services superior to that of our neighbours to the south, despite their having a population base and potential economic/industrial base ten times ours.
Exports have substantially helped Canada achieve that generally higher quality of life: first with raw resources and agriculture, but in modern times increasingly with technology, machinery, chemicals, cars, aircraft and intellectual property….to the tune of $390 Billion in 2016.
And NAFTA …like it or not … has been a BIG boost to Canada’s exports … easing access to 477 million consumers … representing one-fourth of the world’s economic output. And exports to the US and Mexico now account for more than 75% of all Canadian exports!
In fact, these are the NAFTA-related trade figures compiled/reported by federal Global Affairs statisticians:
“In 2015, total trilateral merchandise trade, as measured by the total of each country’s imports from its other two NAFTA partners, amounted to over USD $1.0 trillion – more than a threefold increase since 1993. In 2015, NAFTA partners represented 28% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) with less than 7% of the world’s population. Since the implementation of NAFTA, the North American economy has expanded, with the combined GDP for Canada, the U.S. and Mexico reaching USD $20.7 trillion in 2015. Canadian merchandise exports to the United States grew at an annualized rate of almost 4.6 percent between 1993 and 2015. Canada’s bilateral merchandise trade with Mexico nearly reached CA$37.8 billion in 2015. Some 78 percent of Canada’s total merchandise exports were destined to our NAFTA partners in 2015. Total merchandise trade between Canada and the United States more than doubled between 1993 and 2015. Trade between Canada and Mexico has increased over 8-fold over the same period.
“Canada-U.S. trade in goods and services in 2015 reached close to CA$881 billion. Canada is the second-largest market for U.S. services exports with Canada-U.S. services trade nearly reaching over CA$122.8 billion in 2015, a 205.1 percent increase since 1993. The United States was the number one destination for Canadian merchandise exports in 2015, and was Canada’s largest supplier of merchandise imports. Canada is the main foreign supplier of energy to United States (Mexico is 4th), and was the largest cumulative source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the United States.
“Between 1993 and 2015, Mexico-Canada merchandise trade grew 8-fold to almost CA$37.8 billion in 2015, showing an average annual growth rate of 10.1 percent. Services trade between Canada and Mexico has increased six-fold during the NAFTA period, to nearly $3.9 billion in 2015. In 2015, Mexico was Canada’s 3rd largest trade partner and was Canada’s 3rd largest supplier and 5th largest export market for merchandise trade.
“The enhanced economic activity and production in the region have contributed to the creation of jobs for Canadians with one in six jobs in Canada related to exports. With the addition of nearly 5.2 million net new jobs during the period from 1993-2015, Canada’s unemployment rate has decreased from 11.4 percent (1993) to 6.9 percent (2015).”
And Canadian consumers have benefitted too …. with cheaper imports of goods, foods and a much wider selection of many manufactured products.
Armchair socialists, unionists and just plain anti-Americans may not LIKE those facts … or SAY they prefer the artificial competition barriers that protectionism provides … but I’d bet that hasn’t stopped many of them from buying a lot of those cheaper imported American and Mexican goods …even when costlier Canadian alternatives are available.
Now Donald Trump has re-directed America towards more protectionist … even isolationist … policies that have more support among the US population than many Canadians may believe. And he could just be in power for another seven years! Wreaking havoc on international trade … impacting Canada negatively and more substantially than many other countries, with more diversified markets.
Canada really has no choice but to reach out and sign on to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Even without the US, the agreement will open up and ease access for Canadian companies and producers to markets totaling another 450 million people. (In fact, let’s hope the US stays out … while Canadian companies enjoy lower tariffs or even free access to many more countries.)
Of course, there is no doubt some Canadian companies and sectors will be negatively impacted by the new competition. Just as happened under NAFTA.
But for the vast majority of consumers and for Canadian exporters, if the overall impact is even close to what NAFTA has done for Canada, the outcome will do a lot of good for the nation.
And produce huge revenues and growth to not only sustain but even expand our quality of life and social services … keeping us a much better place to call “home” than the United States.
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