Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Stand on guard for thee, free trade

The trade tensions inherent in the U.S. move toward protectionist measures has one good result: it brings to the foreground the highly integrated North American economy. Canada, in particular, is a key U.S. trading partner that accounts for about 80% of total Canadian exports. It takes about 20% of U.S. total exports, and imports more U.S. goods and services than the entire European Union, an economy 10-times Canada's size. Last year trade between the two nations reached $700-billion. That trade accounts for much prosperity - and many jobs.

The more politicians own up to these facts with their constituents, the more policy will move toward greater integration. Canadians should take the first step forward to be sure that they don't, in trade retaliation, bite the hand that feeds them. It is important that the Canadian government take the high road and work toward unilateral removal of trade barriers should the U.S. regress toward an unfortunate period of protectionism. Self-interest and common sense will prevail.

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