It’s time for Canada to be a leader in the Western Hemisphere
The last three and a half years have been a turbulent period for global markets. Suppliers struggled with supply-chain security, producers battled against arbitrary export barriers, and consumers continue to face ballooning inflation. These stressors have created a once-in-a-lifetime cost-of-living crisis and Canadians are struggling to overcome it. To add fuel to the fire two major global security issues: the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine and a more confrontational China in the Southeast Pacific. To say things, appear bleak would be an apt description. However, I believe such challenges present Canadians with a unique opportunity to reaffirm our values and ensure economic security for years to come. To do this, I propose Canada looks towards its own backyard by reevaluating our position within the region. The Western Hemisphere provides us the opportunity to streamline our supply-chains, reshore well-paying jobs, and reduce inflationary measures on Canadians. All will ensure we are competitive in the global economy while not losing sight of our values.
Nearshoring and reshoring, also known as ‘friend shoring,’ has become a strategic policy direction following COVID-19 supply chain disruptions. Usually through financial incentives to help offset the cost of relocation, reshoring encourages businesses to move their production back home, or to like-minded nations. Its goal is to reduce our reliance on hostile foreign powers while supporting economic growth in our own country and that of our allies. By focusing on regional security and economic development in the Western Hemisphere, we can create stable, secure supply chains for Canadian businesses and consumers. With a population of one billion, a combined GDP of over $30 Trillion, and only three major languages across six time zones, Western Hemisphere integration and cooperation must be implemented to better secure our economy.
However, in Ottawa, support for the Americas has not always been what it should be. Previous governments have strived to lessen Canada’s reliance on American markets by supporting investment and trade with China. This was done under the pretense that stable and secure jobs would allow China to modernize its model of governance and support the rules-based international order. Unfortunately, the political dividends we hoped would occur failed to materialize. Should Canada continue to trade with China? Yes. However, Canada must also look to the Western Hemisphere to help grow our economy with friendly, democratic nation states.
There have been attempts over the years to promote cooperation in the Americas through entities such as the Organization of American States, ParlAmericas, America’s Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP) and regional trade agreements like CUSMA and MERCOSUR. However, regional cooperation has always occurred as a secondary action in response to global events, often overlooked by events in Europe. But that is changing. The region has been moving toward a more integrated 21st century model, and Canada needs to ensure it has a seat at the table.
Working with the United States, we are in a unique position to support security, democracy, and economic growth in the region. The United States is already taking positive first steps. Senator Bill Cassidy (R, LA) and Senator Michael Bennet (D, CO) are co-sponsoring the Americas Trade and Investment Act, a bi-partisan piece of legislation aimed at expanding CUSMA membership to Western Hemisphere nations by creating CUSMA Partnerships. This will not only provide new economic opportunities for those in Central and South America but will also provide access to new markets for Canadian businesses. CUSMA Partner Nations will need to meet strict democratic, environmental, and labour standards, meaning Canadian consumers will be able to sleep easy knowing the products they buy are not manufactured with exploited labour from China. In a letter to International Trade Minister Mary Ng, the Business Council of Canada wrote that “strengthening vital hemispheric supply and value chains, as well as the rules governing free, fair, and open trade in the region, will greatly benefit our national economic security and economic growth.”
Strengthening supply and value chains will not be easy. But for economic security and growth, it is vital. Canada needs to be proactive in engaging with the region. We need to support legislation such as the America’s Trade and Investment Act and associations like APEP. We need to stand up to hostile nations by putting our money where our mouth is. Only our active participation in the region will ensure that Canadian values of liberal democracy and economic security take hold.
So, I say to you, let us start today.
Thanks for reading Randy’s Substack! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.