Canada has been very active on the trade negotiations front, but it has been quite a while since we last closed any critical trade deals. Our most recent achievements include free trade deals with Jordan, Peru, and the Honduras – not of momentous significance to Canadians.

Brian Lee Crowley, managing-director at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, wrote about Canada’s need to close some of its more significant trade negotiations in an editorial for the Postmedia newspaper chain February 15, 2013. In it he noted,

“Canada’s up one, it’s bottom of the ninth with bases loaded. We’re about to find out if we have a closer on the mound.”

You can read the article here.

He makes a good point about the need to close a bigger deal that’s more significant to Canadians, but he provides little insight on how to do it. On the other hand, his emphasis on “closers” does provide for good baseball metaphors.

So, what can Canada do to close? I don’t have the answer, but an interesting paper by Phil Rourke for the C.D. Howe Institute in January 2013 hints at some of the answers. Mr. Rourke is the executive director of the Centre for Trade Policy and Law, which is partially funded by the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

The paper, entitled, “A Canada-CARICOM ‘Trade-not-Aid’ Strategy: Important and Achievable,” looks at Canada’s trade negotiations with countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and proposes a practical strategy to achieve a successful conclusion. It also notes that, while Canadian trade with the Caribbean is small (mostly rum), Canada’s approach to trade negotiations here assumes a broader importance in Canada’s trade negotiation and international development strategies.

The paper provides insight into Canadian trade negotiation strategies, and the need for a different template when we are negotiating with a developing country, not a big player. Mr. Rourke concludes,

“On a strictly commercial interest basis, the Canada-CARICOM trade negotiations as currently conceived do not justify the effort being put into them. But such a deal would be justified if it were framed as a forward-looking trade and development agreement that helped CARICOM countries integrate more fully into the world economy.”

Check out the full report here for insight into closing trade deals.


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