The Harper government prides itself on having staked out a leadership position over the years when it comes to strongly advocating for increased global trade liberalization. Calling for the elimination of trade barriers that significantly hamper market access for Canadian exporters and battling egregious forms of domestic protectionism in other countries have been key features of the government’s international trade agenda.
However, a recent report by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) released earlier this month, demonstrates that measures frequently denounced as being “trade protectionism” when implemented in other parts of the world, are nonetheless still frequently taken here in Canada.
Somewhat inconveniently with respect to the government’s free trade rhetoric, it shows that various anti-dumping and countervailing (AD/CV) measures, which aim to protect companies from what is deemed to be unfair foreign competition, not unexpectedly, actually have some beneficial effects on the economy. This is because, as the report observes, when such measures are in effect “imports of the dumped or subsidized goods tend to decrease and Canadian shipments, related investments and employment tend to increase.”
Although the number of AD/CV actions has decreased by 63% between 1989 and 2013, “the importance of each measure in terms of its impact on Canadian shipments, investments, jobs and imports has increased,” the report says. The almost fifty measures in place at the end of last year had impacted 22,000 jobs, $7.7 billion in Canadian shipments, $0.5 billion in investment and $1.2 billion in imports. From 1989 to 2013, the average impact per measure on shipments, jobs and imports has increased by approximately 493%, 215% and 317%, respectively. While, from 1995 to 2013, the average impact per measure on investments has increased by approximately 80%.
It should be noted that the report does not comprehensively evaluate the full extent of the impact made by AD/CV measures on the economy as the effects on the market resulting from possibly increased prices of imports covered by the measures are not taken into consideration.