Don’t take trade for granted

Being essential to your market ensures a long life for nearly any business.

People have been farming the Canadian Prairies for about 115 years. Food is the most essential business that humans have.

In some years, from a farmer’s perspective, it doesn’t seem like the world needs any more food. Wheat is below $5 per bushel and corn is selling for less than the cost of the world’s most efficient production systems. These examples make it seem as though the abundant food supply is less than essential.

Yet in midst of what seems like too much food, many people still go hungry. In theory there is enough but in practice there isn’t.

Distribution and politics impede delivery and create roadblocks. In the planet’s hungry regions, it never seems like there is enough food.

Politics and policy, and the money motivations that go with them, are also the things that constrict food supplies and fuel wars — trade wars and otherwise.

One need only look at the cultural skirmish that handed the last presidential election in the United States to Donald Trump. Many Americans who felt excluded from the miracle of globalization chose someone who promised the past.

The Arab Spring that saw democratic causes rise up across North Africa in 2011, were built on economies that ignored or failed the youth of those countries.

Europe too, and Great Britain’s Brexit, are attempts to appease an unsettled middle class at the expense of international trade.

But wars are more difficult to start when peoples’ plates are full, literally and figuratively.

In Canada, trade is essential to the existence of prairie farmers and we write a great deal about it.

A nation of traders, we annually export US$295 billion in goods and services, excluding energy, to the U.S. Luckily for us, we also import $280 billion. With only a $15 billion export surplus in goods with the U.S., we are somewhat out of the firing line for American politicians.

In the agricultural sector, Canada usually flows about $22 billion in exports to the U.S., while we import about $24 billion. Exports centre around red meat, which accounts for about $2.2 billion, $1.8 billion for live animals, and $1.6 billion for vegetable oil. Grains oilseeds are also in the mix.

After 93 years of trying to be essential to a market, the WP doesn’t take these things for granted and you will hear from us regularly on this topic.

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