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Archive for 'free trade'

Free Traders Panic Over German Challenge to Investor-State Dispute-Settlement

In my many years documenting and critiquing the overblown claims of free trade proponents about the supposedly self-regulating efficiency-promoting mutually-benefiting effects of globalization, I’ve encountered some real doozies. 

Mel Clark 1921-2014

Mel Clark, a long time trade negotiator for Canada, passed away on March 14. His Notice of Death in the April 24 Globe and Mail describes him as “an independent and progressive thinker with a strong sense of social responsibility.“ “Mel`s decades of experience in the world of international trade had convinced him that free […]

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 […]

Canada-Europe Deal Not About Trade

I have the following letter to the editor in today’s Prince Albert Daily Herald: Canada-Europe Deal Not About Trade In their letter of Dec. 3, Darryl Hickie and other Sask. Party MLAs back away from his previous claim that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU) would be […]

Wordsmithing 80,000 Jobs

Last week’s federal throne speech stated, “The Government will soon complete negotiations on a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union [CETA]. This agreement has the potential to create 80,000 new Canadian jobs.” There has since been a subtle but important shift in the government’s wording around that figure, as I point out […]

Canada’s Trade Deficit with the EU Doubles

On last night’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange, I debunked the claim that the trade deal between Canada and the European Union (EU) will create 80,000 Canadian jobs. The conservative panelists did not even try to defend this figure (see this CBC video, starting at 15:45). As Jim Stanford has previously explained on this blog, the […]

Can Canadians Really “Buy Into” Mexico?

A recent investment advice column in the Globe and Mail (by David Milstead, August 3) highlighted some surprising facts about Mexico’s economy. The bullish author suggested Mexico will be a global economic powerhouse in future years thanks to pro-business policy shifts (like the new plan to open up the petroleum sector, 65 years after nationalization, […]

Will CETA Help Tories… Or Hurt Them??

With Prime Minister Harper making the diplomatic rounds in Europe, media interest has heightened this week regarding the potential free trade agreement which his government is trying to negotiate with the European Union. Several deadlines to reach that deal have come and gone, but the Conservatives are still heavily committed to reaching a deal as […]

Polozogistics: Nine Thoughts About the Choice of the New Bank of Canada Governor

  1. He’s Number Two: Stephen Poloz was widely acknowledged in economic and political circles as the second-best choice for the top job at the Bank of Canada. So the surprise was not that he was chosen. The surprise was, Why Not Tiff Macklem? Will someone please find out and tell the rest of us? 2. […]

$12 bil CETA GDP Claim from SimCity, not Real World

This week’s edition of Embassy newspaper contained a very interesting briefing insert on the Canada-EU CETA talks.  Below is a commentary from me critiquing the ubiquitous but unbelievable claim that free-trade with Europe would boost Canada’s GDP by $12 billion, create 80,000 jobs, and life incomes by $1000 per family.

FTA’s Assumed Benefits Can’t Be Found

Last month’s over-the-top “celebrations”of the 25th anniversary of Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan’s signing of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement seemed strained, to my mind.  The self-congratulation and back-patting struck me as rather overdone, contrived even.  Remember, this wasn’t the 25th anniversary of the FTA’s implementation (that won’t occur until Jan. 1 2014).  It was only the […]

Baskin-Robbins and the Walmartization of Ice Cream

It’s been an unusually hot summer, and soaring temperatures have boosted sales of that quintessential summer food, ice cream. But Baskin-Robbins has decided to shut its production facility in Peterborough, Ont., and lay off 80 workers because of…wait for it… increased demand! From the department of “wait, what?”, here’s the scoop behind this brain-freeze-inducing decision. […]

Trans Pacific Partnership: A Few Questions

The Harper government currently lists 18 different sets of free trade negotiations “in play.”  (See my recent post on this.)  Today the government announced (from the G-20 meetings in Mexico) the 19th: Canada has been invited to join the Trans Pacific Partnership talks.  The TPP negotiations were initiated several years ago bya number of smaller […]

Promoting Trade and Signing Free Trade Deals are NOT the Same Thing

DFAIT’s web site currently lists 18 different trade deals currently “in play” (and that doesn’t count the Trans-Pacific Partnership, where Ottawa is so far just flirting). But Harper’s push to sign as many FTAs as possible while he has a majority will not improve Canada’s actual trade, which is deteriorating (both quantitatively and qualitatively) the […]

Who Wants “Closer” Ties With China?

The Prime Minister’s trip to China last week sparked a flurry of media coverage regarding prospects for “closer” economic ties between Canada and China.  Some even speculated that another free trade agreement is in the works (as soon as the Harper government inks its planned deals, of course, with the EU, India, Korea, and the […]

Is Labour Doomed?

Last week (Feb. 2nd) I drove up to London, Ontario, to shoot some film footage of the locked-out workers picketing outside the Electro-Motive Diesel plant for a documentary I am working on. The company, the only one to make locomotives in Canada, is owned by Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest equipment manufacturer. They’d locked out […]

What CETA Would Mean for Canada’s Auto Industry

Canadian free trade negotiators are going all-out to get a deal with the EU on a new free trade agreement. The Harper government wants a deal badly for largely symbolic and ideological purposes, to show that the free trade agenda is back on track under this “stable majority government.”  Many valid concerns have been raised […]

“Time to Reduce Exposure to Europe”

CBC National News reconvened their “Bottom Line” economics panel (including yours truly) last night to discuss the twin debt crises (Europe and America) that are currently roiling financial markets.  Here’s the link to the webcast for aficionados. In the last segment, Pater Mansbridge asked all the panelists how the debt problems should affect individual Canadians’ personal […]

TILMA by Stealth

A month ago, Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments volunteered to be directly sued by investors under the Agreement on Internal Trade. This quiet announcement from Brudenell, Prince Edward Island, seems to have gone almost unnoticed. But it is a huge step toward imposing the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) on all Canadian […]

New CAW Film About the Economics of CETA

The CAW has just released a 20-minute video featuring none other than yours truly giving a short lecture about the economics of the proposed Canada-EU free trade agreement (a.k.a. CETA). This link takes you to the film, which can be downloaded for free and shown at information meetings or any other organizing events.

Creating Comparative Advantage

Here is an interesting piece from the Financial Times on how Chinese companies are rapidly grabbing global market share from Germany of all countries across a swath of technologically sophisticated capital goods industries, from solar, to high speed rail, to the German fortress of mechanical engineering and machine tools. Had China heeded the mainstream view […]

Climbing Down the Value Ladder

There’s a shockingly honest and accurate article about Canada’s deteriorating trade performance in today’s Globe and Mail by Barrie McKenna. It notes that Canada’s trade balance improved dramatically in November (almost completely closing October’s $1.5 billion).  However, it cited some Bay Street economists lamenting that this was for the “wrong reasons”: namely, a sharp slowdown […]

Drinking Your Own CGE Bath Water

Trade Minister Peter van Loan goes after Maude Barlow with a letter in yesterday’s Globe and Mail, responding to her fine recent op-ed on the Canada-EU free trade talks. Among other cheap shots, van Loan once again cited as “proof” the findings of a computable general equilibrium model that was commissioned by the EU and […]

The Lumpenization of the Global Economy

Gabriella Moldonado looked like someone who was thoroughly whipped by life. This past October I was standing on the front stoop of her sagging home in Laredo, Texas, interviewing the middle-aged, portly woman for a television documentary about Mexico’s drug cartel wars. Laredo is a city of 230,000 that lies on the Rio Grande river […]

Peter Van Loan’s Made-Up Trade Statistics

Here’s an amusing epilogue to my recent CCPA report on the possible economic and employment impacts of a free trade agreement between Canada and the EU.  (Here is the report; here is my blog on it.) The day after the report came out, reporters asked Trade Minister Peter Van Loan to comment on its predictions […]

Out of Equilibrium: Why EU-Canada Free Trade Won’t Work in the REAL World

The Canadian and EU governments are working toward a free trade agreement that would comprehensively liberalize trade in goods and services, government procurement, foreign investment, and other important economic interactions between the two parties.  Canada enters these negotiations with a notable disadvantage in terms of both quantitative trade flows, and the qualitative composition of trade.  […]

Beggar-thy-Neighbour Trade Strategies Still Rule

My Globe and Mail column today looks at the issue of trade imbalances in global trade.  Countries like Germany have stimulated their own recoveires (for now) by deliberately targeting large trade surpluses; this strategy has also been followed for years by China, Japan, Korea, and others enamoured with export-led growth (which is a totally different […]

Harper’s $130 Million Chapter 11 Giveaway

            Canada’s federal government made an important announcement this week.  It was kept deliberately quiet: with a news release issued at 4:45 pm on a calm Tuesday in the middle of the late-summer news “dead zone.”  But it should set alarm bells ringing for anyone concerned with the anti-democratic direction of global trade law.

Buy American Deal: Deja Vu All Over Again

I’ve found the politics of the Buy American controversy very odd.  President Obama, to help sell his massive stimulus package to the American public, added measures to maximize domestic content in stimulus-funded projects.  From his perspective, that was sensible both economically (reduces the import leakage from the stimulus) and politically. If anything, it should have […]

Depression, Not Protectionism, Is What’s Killing Trade

The downturn in global trade is stunning — a sure sign that this is no garden-variety slowdown we are experiencing.  And in Canada’s case, the cyclical downturn in trade lies on top of a deeper structural change: our increased reliance on resource exports, which produced (via Dutch Disease mechanisms) a corresponding shift of output and […]