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  • Kate McInturff Fellowship in Gender Justice September 19, 2018
    The CCPA is pleased to announce the creation of the Kate McInturff Fellowship in Gender Justice.This Fellowship is created to honour the legacy of senior researcher Kate McInturff who passed away in July 2018. Kate was a feminist trailblazer in public policy and gender-based research and achieved national acclaim for researching, writing, and producing CCPA’s […]
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    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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Did the US Take a Bite Out of Canada-Korea Trade?

On last night’s The National, Terry Milewski introduced the Canada-Korea trade deal as follows:

The truth is that Canada is a latecomer to free trade with South Korea. The European Union and the United States both got there first, and their free trade deals took a big bite out of Canada’s exports. So, the government really had to catch up.

It is true that trade deals with South Korea came into force in mid-2011 for the EU and in early 2012 for the US, but how did they affect Canadian exports?

In US dollars, Canada’s international exports edged up from $451.6 billion in 2011 to $458.1 billion in 2013. Within those totals, exports to South Korea fell from $5.1 billion to $3.3 billion – a big bite out of this small trade flow, but a nibble of less than half of one percent of Canada’s worldwide exports.

And 2011 is hardly a representative base of comparison. In no other year has Canada ever sold more than $3.7 billion of merchandise to South Korea. Last year’s $3.3 billion was pretty typical of our annual exports to South Korea since 2006.

Furthermore, US exports to South Korea also declined from $43.4 billion in 2011 to $41.6 billion in 2013. It is not as if the US is grabbing Korean market share at Canada’s expense. At most, advocates of the free-trade deal could argue that sales to South Korea decreased at a slower pace from the US than from Canada.

The Canada-Korea deal is touted as a boon to Canadian agriculture. But US agricultural sales to South Korea fell from $5.1 billion in 2011 to $3.2 billion in 2013. Interestingly, American agricultural exports to South Korea under a free-trade deal almost perfectly mirrored total Canadian exports to South Korea without a deal. Given the overall decline of North American sales to South Korea in the past couple of years, we cannot blame the Korea-US deal for the drop in Canadian exports.

As I argued on Monday’s Power & Politics, the Canada-Korea deal threatens to deepen our trade deficit by facilitating more imports from South Korea while depriving Canada of the industrial-policy tools that South Korea used to develop its manufacturing sector. The technical summary posted yesterday confirms that the deal will expose Canada to more investor-state disputes, as my union had warned.

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