For more than two decades, the world seemed to be headed toward less protectionism as free-trade deals proliferated among regions and countries of shared interests. Any time we heard of a commodity-exporting competitor signing on to one that we didn’t have, a bit of green jealousy would rise in our throats.
Canada had finally kicked American country-of-origin labelling down the road and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while not embraced by either U.S. presidential candidate, still seemed to have potential. That was so 2015.
Then some global economies began to shift. There was an increase in international terror. A wave of would-be politicians came to power, not concerned with the trouble that they could cause by pointing their fingers at the-others, whose fault it is for everything.
A new personal-situational awareness set in for many voters. A xenophobic haze began to blanket large parts of the planet.
Since then, Brexit has muddled up the United Kingdom. The 45th American president has offended every significant trading partner it has. Italy has defied trade deals it has signed onto — think Canadian durum — and China has proven again it can be a fair-weather trader.
Voters the world over have chosen politicians of a variety of stripes, some more skunk-like than others, to represent their very narrowest of concerns, or what populist fearmongers offer them as their concerns.
Even our prairie neighbours in Montana are currently trying to put into law a new statewide COOL for food products, targeting Canada. They have been trying on and off to do that since 2002.
While the headlines more loudly acknowledge the xenophobic infections, trade in products like beef and pork have been improving for exporters such as Canada as global markets continue along a more enlightened path. The new TPP, effective in January, dropped Japanese meat import tariffs by 11 points. In that month, TPP-member sales of beef to Japan jumped 56 percent, and the U.S. lost six percent of its market share.
Carry on Canada, you’re headed in the right direction.