(Jim Stanford – Globe & Mail)
As soon as it won its coveted majority, the Harper government put the pedal to the metal on the trade front, with a stampede of new free-trade deals. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade currently lists 18 different deals in play, ranging from puny (Panama and Jordan) to gargantuan (Europe, Japan and India).
Anyone who stands in the way of this juggernaut clearly must oppose trade in general. At least that’s how the Conservatives portray the issue, attempting to brand its New Democratic opponents as economically illiterate dinosaurs.
There’s a big difference, however, between signing free-trade pacts and actually doing something about trade. Canada’s trade performance deteriorated badly over the past decade. The quantity of goods and services shipped abroad is seven percentage points lower than when the Harper government took office, lower even than back in 2000. And what we do export increasingly consists of raw resources (especially oil). Our once-impressive trade surplus has melted into deficit. Despite accelerating petroleum sales, we’re running up international red ink at the rate of 3 per cent of GDP per year. Read more here.
Date: May 21, 2012