Finding the balance: Canada’s national interests and free-trade mentality

Canada’s free-trade mentality has put it at a great position internationally, but when does it start doing more harm than good?

Since the end of the Second World War, trade has been the principal means by which countries and nations from all over the world have caught on with the times, leading to long-term growth and prosperity. It’s a no-brainer as well, nations have their own products and landmark services, and flourishing trade means an increase in income and opportunities that workers can benefit from.

Canada’s free-trade importance

One such country is Canada, which has used its free-trade mentality to steadily push boundaries and earn its rank as a world-renowned nation. In fact, much of Canada’s prosperity is due to its international trade, with trade of goods and services representing about 64 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

According to a previous research provided by Statistics Canada, trade and free-enhancing policies did much to improve Canada’s productivity performance, especially in its manufacturing sector. As a matter of fact, from the years 1974 up to 2010, 35 percent of manufacturers that were also exporters were largely responsible for around 72 percent of total manufacturing employment, as well as 79 percent of total manufacturing shipments.

By creating more predictable, transparent and fair conditions for its businesses operating outside of its rule, Canada’s trade agreements have more or less created a level playing field for its companies to confidently compete in international markets. Furthermore, it also opens up better opportunities by reducing trade barriers like tariffs or quotas.

In fact, Canada’s credibility has risen so much that Canadian projects usually serve as reference points for international markets.

But can too much of a good thing be a bad thing?

And should Canada put its national interests first?

Canada
A country’s national interest is a key concept in International Relations. (Source)

Finding the proper balance

Referred to as a country’s goals and ambitions, a country’s national interest is a key concept in International Relations, whether economic, military, cultural or otherwise. And Canada’s government seem to be at a crossroads with this one, understanding that tough decisions have to be made to build an ecologically sustainable economy that meets social needs and does not solely rely on free-trade, but not having the initiative to follow through and actually do it. Oftentimes profits are protected, while risks are both displaced and socialized.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any improvements. Earlier this year in May, the government of Canada stepped up for national interest, working alongside Canada’s Building Trades Unions and paralleling the previous bailout of the auto and railway industry.

Alberta’s government has also stepped up, choosing to put the interest of its citizens beyond the interest of their political partners from outside of the country.

Moving forward, balancing national interests with Canada’s ever-growing free-trade mentality has always been a matter of a level playing field and reciprocity. Canadian companies and individuals must first find success in their own land before finding it in others’.

That’s not to say it should give up its free-trade industry, but at the same time, it must put forward a national policy that will put its county’s best interests and economy first before it even starts thinking out of the box.

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