Time to remind the G20 there’s more to Canada’s economy than trade with China
China’s latest trade attack — this time on exports of Canadian meat — is a fresh warning of the current volatility in global commerce.
As the world’s largest trading nations gather at the G20 summit in Japan this week, there have been stern warnings that a failure to resolve the tariff dispute between the United States and China will have a dire effect on the entire global economy.
But despite repeated warnings of trade Armageddon, the North American economy has shown itself to be surprisingly resilient and the latest economic indicators tell us that Canada is actually doing quite well.
And as painful as it is for Canadian producers that have benefited from the Chinese market, the dark cloud of politically motivated trade action may have a silver lining.
For one thing, it tells Canadian exporters that China, willing to cast aside a long, close trading relationship in favour of short-term political bullying, may not be a reliable trade partner.
For another, it is a reminder that, for Canada, exports to China are by no means the only game in town.
Certainly in the run-up to the G20 meeting in Osaka that officially begins Friday, spillover from the U.S.-China trade battle has been seen as a key subject of discussion. Whether there is any hope of a resolution is widely disputed.
“We were about 90 per cent of the way there and I think there’s a path to complete this,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin this week, insisting he is optimistic talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will lead to progress.
But there have been many other signals from the U.S. administration that there are large issues outstanding. Trump has warned of a “plan B” — including more tariffs — if China does not back down.
So far Xi has been equally intransigent, unwilling to give up key elements of his country’s long-term technology plan, the Made in China 2025 strategy, in exchange for short-term trade peace.
Between those two poles, Canada has been caught in the middle. U.S. hostility toward China, including its demand that Canada arrest Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, has led directly to the Canada-China dispute. (CBC)