When international trade collapsed in 2009, the Canadian economy turned inward, and for a change, discovered a steady source of growth. That source is now tapped out, and economy-watchers have for some time turned their eyes back to trade. So far, the view has been uninspiring. Will Canadian trade carry growth forward, or is our hopeful gaze in for a big disappointment?
Canada's corporate extension into Honduras is emblematic of this neocolonial pillage of public resources that impoverishes the majority as it enriches oligarchs and foreign investors. Corporate globalism has everything to do with profit and exploitation, and nothing to do with fair trade, human rights or labour rights.
At first blush, the recent decision of the Canadian government to shift its foreign affairs focus from diplomacy to servicing private industry came as something of a shock to many. We have become just another nation interested in building up its own wealth at the expense of being an effective influence in the larger struggles facing the globe -- poverty, climate change, localized conflicts, and a general breaking down of democracy's legitimacy.
Plenty of people will shamelessly demand government spend lots of extra money to "buy local," even if the cost is millions or billions of dollars more. This is daft. The notion that jobs in Canada come at the cost of employment in Japan, India, China or Germany, or vice-versa, is profoundly mistaken. Jobs can be created in one's own country and abroad at the same time.
Corporate empowerment deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the as yet unratified Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA), a bilateral agreement with China, empower corporations to the extent that government legislation becomes subordinated to corporate profits. There are ways to combat this, but it will not be easy.
Weakness in the developing world has had an ugly recent effect: vibrant Asian economies wilted over the summer months, and now face a less certain path in the months ahead. Vaunted as a key engine of the world economy, Asian economic powerhouses are now contributing to the pervasive sense of global gloom. Will Asia self-start, or will re-ignition require a boost from another battery?
War, famine, death, devastation -- we've heard it all so many times about Africa that we feel we know it by heart. It's time we acquired a new vocabulary. It's almost as if, right under our nose, while beset by our own economic problems, we missed what is clearly a remarkable economic and social shift in world developments. Here are just some examples of what's been going on.
Although not all corporations are bad, many of them, and the super-rich who run them, are increasing their wealth at the expense of generations to come -- poisoning air, water, and soil. The costs of those problems will be most strongly felt by successive generations to come, yet economists discount them.
With the loonie near parity, transportation costs climbing and protectionist trade provisions on the table in Washington, Canadian businesses can be f...