Canada’s trade strategy does not work because it’s an incomplete solution

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) released today, in partnership with KPMG, Stalled Trade: Gearing up Canadian Exports, a report looking into that state of trade in Canada. Findings show that Canada’s export performance has been in free fall since the early 2000s and that Canada’s approach to trade diversification has been an incomplete solution.

CME’s report suggests that while Free Trade Agreements (FTA) are critical, Canada’s inability to take advantage of any of the 14 deals in place, except for the NAFTA, is a clear sign that they are) not a sustainable path to export growth.

An export strategy that is overly reliant on FTAs insufficiently prepares businesses to compete in international markets. This is why Canada, unlike its global competitors, was unable to recover from China’s accession to the WTO and the turn toward protectionism fuelled by 9/11.

Going against the trends of pundits and opinion-givers demanding a shift towards new trade markets in the aftermath of a difficult USMCA negotiation, CME offers a fact-based 3-pillar approach to trade:

  • Strengthening Canada’s existing export foundations, with a focus on building from existing trade agreements, especially the USMCA, and leveraging our natural and existing strengths and resources;
  • Scaling up small- and medium-sized companies to support them going global through stronger support programs for domestic investment as well as international growth opportunities; and
  • Attracting foreign direct investment and global production mandates from large multinational companies.

CME conducted extensive survey research through its biennial Management Issues Survey to assess manufacturers’ views on the main causes of Canadian export declines which received nearly 550 responses from leaders in the manufacturing sector. This combined with extensive research and economic analysis enabled us to properly identify the root causes of Canada’s underperformance and offer solutions to overcome these challenges.

About Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Since 1871, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has been helping manufacturers grow at home and thrive around the world. In 2016, CME released Industrie 2030 – a roadmap for doubling Canadian manufacturing activity by 2030. Our focus is to ensure the sector is dynamic, profitable, productive, innovative and growing. We aim to do this by strengthening the labour force, accelerating the adoption of advanced technology, supporting product commercialization, expanding marketplaces and, most importantly, ensuring a globally-competitive business environment. CME is a member-driven association that directly represents more than 2,500 leading companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.

For more information

Stefi Proulx

Director of Communications & Branding

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

(613) 292-6070