“We need more reliable trade infrastructure to deliver products to market. Our research seeks practical solutions.”
Carlo Dade, Director, Trade & Investment Centre
A better way to do business
Canada faces critical trade challenges in an increasingly volatile international trade environment. Increasing market access used to be our greatest challenge. We are now trying to manage tensions over the basic rules of trade with the U.S. We also face challenges working with countries in Asia that have different beliefs on how economic growth and trade should be managed. Meanwhile, our growing inability to deliver goods reliably because of lack of strategic trade infrastructure undercuts success we might have in increasing market access. These are among the issues our 2018 research and recommendations will focus on.
The NAFTA “just-in-case” plan
The future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is uncertain. No matter the outcome, it’s not too soon for small businesses who rely on the trade deal to be ready. Our “just in case” guide will give small businesses practical advice and case studies to prepare for what happens if the U.S. withdraws from the deal. We will also continue to provide expert analysis, insights and recommendations on the important Canada-U.S. trade relationship.
New trade horizons in the Asia-Pacific
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) offers one set of rules for 10 markets. For Canadian businesses, particularly western agricultural producers, there will be significant benefits, but finding them can be complex. We will provide an easy to understand, practical guide for small and medium-sized businesses on how to capitalize on the CPTPP opportunities. We will also continue to provide expert analysis, insights and recommendations on how western Canada can take advantage of Asian market opportunities.
The rise of China – and its millions of consumers with increasing disposable income – provides huge opportunity for Canadian businesses to expand trade. But we must tread cautiously. Our Centre will produce a unique “China-in-western-Canadian media” newsletter; briefs on new trade or investment treaty negotiations in China; and a paper on western Canadian food and agricultural trade and investment with China.
Building more and better strategic trade infrastructure
In Canada, and especially the West, we are fortunate to produce much of what the booming global markets want and need. But we lose out when we don’t get our goods to markets fast or reliably enough – if at all. We will conclude our work on how to improve trade infrastructure by linking the private sector and its sophisticated logistics supply and production chain information to government decision-making to get trade infrastructure spending right.
Conditions on foreign investment
Canada cannot generate enough investment domestically to meet the country’s needs. Yet, although official Canadian policy is to welcome foreign direct investment, it isn’t always greeted with open arms. When Canada imposes conditions on foreign investment, it reduces the incentive to invest here. We will conduct and publish a study to determine what types of conditions, if any, are needed to reduce barriers to foreign investment without causing harm to Canada.
How to deal with trade disruption
In every trade agreement, there are many winners – but also some losers. The benefits of more open trade are significant, but usually diffuse, and spread wide, with many people benefitting in smaller, less obvious ways such as lower prices for food or jobs in supply chains. Losses however, tend to be concentrated, such as when a factory closes. How do governments make decisions to provide compensation and transition assistance to those disrupted, based on evidence, instead of emotion or specific lobby efforts, and which is fairly distributed? In light of the signing of the CPTPP, our project will provide recommendations on how to get it right.