Agriculture This Week – Trade relations are often difficult
When it comes to international relations, in Canada we like to think that we have something special with the United States.
We do share a very long border, free from turrets and soldier patrols, but the cordial relationship rarely extends to trade matters.
The United States sees itself as the “big dog” of our world, and with that comes a certain level of supposed entitlement on its part.
Obviously, Canada does a lot of trade with products that move south, because we are a very production-oriented country, whether it is agriculture, mining, oil or gas. forestry. We have the capacity to produce much more than what we consume, so we seek to get our products to international markets.
The United States, with its approximately 325 million inhabitants, is a premier market based on ease of access.
Except that the ease of access only extends to the ease of access of products in terms of transport.
Commerce is still a sort of red tape in many cases.
Yes, we have trade deals in place, but you have to remember that getting into bed with the United States is a bit like being in that bed with a giant, when they turn around they take almost all covers.
In the case of a trade agreement, the paperwork is completed, but that does not prevent trade disputes, and while often the process can be decided in Canada’s favor, there is always a cost that producers have to pay.
There have always been disputes, bickering over the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) when it existed, the supply management industry, hogs and softwood lumber. I guess it’s worth noting here that the CWB has been dismantled and supply management is just a shadow of its old plateau, with both movements undoubtedly influenced by US pressure.
The relationship has been strained by the administration of US President Donald Trump, a highly protectionist leader with a personality that has raised feathers everywhere. His four years were not at all devoted to open trade and strained relations with more than Canada.
New President Joe Biden should be more sympathetic to trading partners, but the navigation is far from smooth as trade disputes have lingered since Trump’s days – including lumber and dairy.
So while we are very reliant on the American market here in Canada, we have to recognize that the only deal Americans like is the one they consider to have the upper hand.
We may be friends, but commercially this relationship is often strained.
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