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  • Author: Judit Fabian
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: International trade is often framed in starkly divergent terms: either countries choose multilateral trade agreements (MTAs) and advance the cause of global economic liberalization, or they choose preferred trade agreements (PTAs) and put the entire system at risk. Canada has a long track record of pursuing PTAs and with the Trump administration’s opposition to multilateralism, and longstanding opposition in elements of the Republican and Democratic parties, this trend will likely continue. The question is whether progress will come at the expense of the global trade system. Some economists believe PTAs to be trade-diverting, reducing trade with more efficient producers outside the agreement. Others insist that PTAs can create trade by shifting production to lower-cost producers in one of the participating countries. One prominent contrary argument holds that PTAs lead to discontinuities in tariff regimes between countries and regions, increasing transaction costs, disrupting supply chains, creating opportunities for corruption and harming global welfare, especially in developing nations. While debate continues about the effects of PTAs, a closer examination suggests that worries are overblown about their negative impacts on global trade flows. Evidence indicates that they support rather than harm the international trading system. Countries shut out of PTAs are more motivated to seek out agreements in new markets, increasing liberalization overall. They may also seek a reduction in most-favoured nation (MFN) tariffs, which would deprive PTAs of their major tariff benefits. Studies have found complementarity between preferential and MFN tariffs, revealing that PTAs promote external trade liberalization. Even if a PTA reduces a given country’s incentive to push for multilateral liberalization, it raises the odds of that country liberalizing its trade to avoid getting left behind. PTAs are a response to the difficulties of securing sweeping multilateral agreements. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements authorize them under GATT Article XXIV, GATS Article V, and the enabling clause, and the WTO facilitates a degree of governance over PTAs through its dispute settlement process. Over the past 25 years, countries have adopted these deals at a rapid pace. Between 1994 and 2005, the number of PTAs increased from 50 to 200. By April 2018, 336 were in effect. At the same time, global trade has increased significantly. Between 1994 and 2010, the volume of world merchandise exports more than doubled. The proliferation of PTAs has resulted in a rise in international trade governance, because the countries involved shape their relationships in line with the WTO agreements. This juridification makes PTAs subordinate to the international system rather than giving them room to dissolve it. Canada should therefore have no fear of pursuing PTAs within the larger framework of the effort to achieve multilateral trade liberalization.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Multilateralism, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: David J. Bercuson
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: When U.S. President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 on a promise to cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada risked losing the free-trade regime that it had enjoyed with the U.S. since the original U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1989. Those who came to Canada’s rescue, by persuading the Trump administration to eventually make a new deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, were Canada’s trading partners in the United States, whose interests were threatened: Nearly two-thirds of U.S. states now have Canada as their most important trading partner. This was indicative of a long-term trade pattern of an ever-increasing closeness in trade between the U.S. and Canada. It is a pattern that started since before Confederation and in spite of not a few attempts in Canada to diversify exports away from the U.S. However, that simply cannot happen in any meaningful way: The 170-year-old pattern of Canada-U.S. trade is now so permanent as to be utterly irreversible. Since the decision by Britain to end tariff preferences for its colonies in the mid-19th century, Canada has naturally sought to penetrate the U.S. market for its exports. The desire has not always been mutual: American protectionism has, at times, hampered the export of Canadian products to the U.S., although tariff barriers have failed to stop what is a seemingly natural and, in many ways, necessary north-south flow of goods and services. Even Canadian attempts to reorient its own trade emphasis to enhance domestic east-west trade, or to expand into countries beyond the United States have made little difference. The trading relationship between Canada and the U.S. has endured through wars and in peacetime, through Republican administrations and Democratic ones. It will only continue to grow. Fantasizing about some markedly different trading future is therefore a waste of Canada’s time and energy, which should instead be expended on further penetrating the American marketplace and solidifying ties with state and local governments, local manufacturing associations, Congress and new industries. Canada should take advantage of its new trade deal with the U.S. to integrate the Canadian economy as fully into that of the U.S. as possible. There may be others like President Trump or some like him in Canada, who try to disrupt the trade relationship. That even Trump eventually was persuaded to agree to free trade with Canada is evidence, however, that an ever-closer trading relationship is simply a reality that cannot be stopped.
  • Topic: Markets, History, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Eugene Lang
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Two hundred and forty days. That is the average length of tenure – eight months – of the national security advisor to the U.S. president during the past two-and-a-half years. With the resignation or firing (depending on who you listen to) of John Bolton, Donald Trump is now on to his fifth assistant to the president for national security affairs, the official title of the job. It is an historic anomaly of epic proportions. Since the position was created during the Eisenhower administration in the early 1950s, on average national security advisors have served 32 months, exactly four times the average shelf life of Trump’s advisors (and Trump is only just over halfway through his first term of office).1 Revolving doors are of course a hallmark of the Trump administration, but does this one really matter?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, National Security, Politics, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Adam Frost, David J. Bercuson, Andrea Charron, James Fergusson, Robert Hage, Robert Huebert, Petra Dolata, Hugh Segal, Heidi Tworek, Vanja Petricevic, Kyle Matthews, Brian Kingston
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Global Exchange
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The fundamental rules of conventional sovereignty are that states will refrain from intervening in the internal affairs of other states, are afforded the right to determine their own domestic authority structures and are freely able to decide what international agreements they choose to enter or not. In principle these concepts have been widely accepted, but are often violated in practice. While conventional sovereignty would appear favourable in theory, realistically, the domestic affairs and foreign policy decisions of states can and do have consequences for others. Poor governance in one state can produce regional instability, from uncontrolled migration across borders, uncontrolled arms trade and other illicit trafficking or the rise of militant nonstate actors. Economic, environmental and health policies of one state can affect the food, water, health and economic security of another. These transnational issues are increasingly complex because the world is more globalized than ever before. No state exists in a vacuum. Therefore, it is often within a state’s interest to influence the policy decisions of its neighbours. Pragmatism often trumps abstract theoretical ideals. The lead package of this issue examines the challenges of securing Canada’s sovereignty from modern threats. When discussing Canadian sovereignty the Arctic will invariably be mentioned, and indeed is the focus of fully half of this edition. David Bercuson, Andrea Charron and James Fergusson argue that the perceived threats to Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic are overblown, resulting in alarmist rhetoric. Robert Hage, Rob Huebert and Petra Dolata, however, content that Canada must be vigilant if it does not wish to erode sovereign control of its Arctic territory. Going beyond the arctic circle, Hugh Segal and Heidi Tworek discuss the challenges of defending against hybrid threats and outline possible steps in response to such perils. From coordinating with our closest allies to no longer tolerate attacks against the integrity of our most valued institutions, to increasing transparency of activities and strengthen public trust in Canadian democracy via domestic measures. Finally, this package concludes on the issue of border control. Vanja Petricevic discusses the shortcomings of Canada’s current management of asylum seekers and how the concept of sovereignty is being adapted to address modern migration challenges. While Kyle Matthews asserts the importance of holding Canadian citizens responsible for their actions abroad because to do otherwise is not only dangerous, but an affront to Canadian ideals. Contemporary transnational challenges are complex and dynamic. The climate is changing, technology is enabling previously unimaginable feats, and global demographics and migration are creating new points of contention. If Canada is to navigate these issues, and defend its sovereignty, it must work closely with its international partners and ensure that it is capable and willing to stand on guard for thee.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Sovereignty, Immigration, Governance, Elections, Islamic State, Diversification, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Canada, North America, Arctic, United States of America