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Archive for 'NAFTA'

The NSA Scandal is all about Economics

Back in 1998, I wrote a lengthy investigative feature for The Financial Post about Canada’s signals intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), and its post-Cold War role. You can read it here: http://circ.jmellon.com/docs/pdf/trolling_for_secrets_economic_espionage.pdf The CSE and its sister signals intelligence agency in the US, the National Security Agency (NSA), engage in espionage using solely […]

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, […]

Use University Research to Increase Manufacturing Jobs

Manufacturing jobs have been declinining as a percentage of total jobs in most OECD countries for several decades, with Ontario being especially hard-hit as a jurisdiction. At the end of the Second World War, manufacturing jobs accounted for 26% of all Canadian jobs; by 2007, this figure had dropped to just 12%. And as I’ve […]

Industry Canada Pans Free Trade?

Shortly before I left Canada, Canadian Business magazine contacted me for a story on productivity. It highlighted a presentation by Industry Canada economist Annette Ryan. I was struck by slide 40 (41 of 44 in the PDF): In an endogenous sunk cost model, opening free trade and intensifying competition leads to a divergence in innovation […]

The New ABC: Abitibi Bowater Conservatives

As sometimes happens, I started writing a comment on Jim’s excellent post and then realized that there was enough material for a new post. I agree with Jim that Ottawa’s $130-million settlement with AbitibiBowater deserves more attention, but I have been waist-deep in potash. I think that my initial take on Abitibi’s NAFTA challenge still holds up […]

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.

Danny Chavez vs. NAFTA

I have generally been underwhelmed by media coverage of AbitibiBowater’s prospective NAFTA challenge of Newfoundland and Labrador’s decision to reclaim natural resources that the company previously used to operate paper mills in the province. I watched a panel discussion on Mike Duffy Live (before his Senate appointment) that focussed entirely on NAFTA’s nondiscrimination provisions. But […]

Richardson Out

Obama’s selection of pro-NAFTA politicians as his Chief of Staff, Commerce Secretary, and US Trade Representative worried those of us who hope that he is serious about renegotiating NAFTA. This afternoon’s news that Bill Richardson has withdrawn reopens the possibility of appointing a NAFTA critic to the Commerce portfolio. Anyway, hope springs eternal.

Blakeney on Royalties, the Charter and NAFTA

Allan Blakeney, Saskatchewan’s Premier from 1971 until 1982, just published his memoirs, An Honourable Calling. Book launches are scheduled in Regina (Nov. 25), Saskatoon (Nov. 27), Moose Jaw (Dec. 2) and Ottawa (Dec. 9). A few years ago, Blakeney had me pull together some facts and figures for his chapter on oil, so I was […]

Routledge Book on Free Trade

Routledge has just published a book comparing Australian, Canadian, and Mexican experiences of free trade with the United States. There are three chapters on each country examining long-run socioeconomic development prior to free trade, the specific free trade deals, and future policy alternatives. I wrote the Canadian chapter on the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement and […]

John Kenneth Galbraith Prize 2008

Today at the Canadian Economics Association meetings, the PEF officially awarded the first John Kenneth Galbraith Prize in Economics to co-winners Mel Watkins and Kari Polanyi Levitt. We had a packed room for the event, which featured opening remarks by Jamie Galbraith, and a historical retrospective of their works by Jim Stanford. Below is the […]

The End of NAFTA?

Several articles in today’s Globe and Mail assume that the US Democratic Party’s desire to renegotiate NAFTA threatens Canada. On the contrary, Canadians should welcome this initiative. Senators Clinton and Obama have called for limits on the ability of foreign investors to directly challenge public policy under NAFTA’s notorious Chapter 11. Canada has been the […]

Canada-US Tax Treaty

On Friday, the Finance Minister and the Treasury Secretary signed the Fifth Protocol of the Canada-US Income Tax Convention. The Canadian government lined up several business organizations in advance to provide endorsements, which have dominated the media coverage. One of these organizations, the C. D. Howe Institute, made the case for the amended treaty through […]

Context on the Canada Post v. UPS NAFTA ruling

The Globe’s story, Canada Post NAFTA win sets precedent, for UPS vs the government of Canada with respect to Canada Post, is a bit misleading. It comes across as “see, those whiners about investor-state were wrong all along”: Chapter 11 was controversial from NAFTA’s inception because critics charged it would allow foreign investors to challenge, […]

Randy Burton on TILMA

Hopefully, the radio interview that I just did with Saskatoon’s News Talk 650 will help to counteract Randy Burton’s column in today’s StarPhoenix. Burton claims: There is one overarching reason why we should be cautious about accepting the predictions of doom that await Saskatchewan if it joins a trade agreement with Alberta and B.C. The […]

TILMA: A Report from the Front Line

On Tuesday, I testified before the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on the Economy, which is holding public hearings on joining TILMA. The Legislative Assembly is broadcasting the hearings and promptly posting the recordings. To see my presentation, click “Video 1″ for June 5 and use the bar immediately below the screen to advance the […]

Postal Workers Respond to Coyne

Today’s National Post features a stinging reply from Deborah Bourque to Andrew Coyne’s critique of Canada’s postal monopoly. I have no expertise on comparative international postal systems, but the facts outlined by Bourque seem to do serious damage to Coyne’s argument. At this point, the debate appears to pit hard evidence regarding Canada Post’s low […]

Hewers of Minerals, Drawers of Oil and Gas

Yesterday’s International Merchandise Trade Annual Review from StatsCan confirms the Mel Watkins thesis that Canada is rapidly reverting to its historical role as a commodity producer for the global economy. http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/070508/d070508a.htm From 2002, the Canadian dollar began to appreciate rapidly against the US dollar (and Asian currencies tied to the US dollar) in response to […]

Trade Balances and Jobs: Canada, the US and China

The following note, including tables, is available on the Canadian Labour Congress website: Free trade was promoted to Canadians on the famous promise of “jobs, jobs, and more jobs” and is widely defended on the basis that Canada’s large trade surplus with the US contributes to Canadian employment. Meanwhile, American commentators are concerned that the […]

Is NAFTA’s Chapter 11 constitutional?

A colleague emailed me a submission to the Supreme Court of Canada seeking to have them interpret whether the investor-to-state dispute settlement regime of NAFTA (in Chapter 11) is in violation of the Charter of Rights. We will know in a few months time whether the highest court in the land will hear this appeal […]