Sunday, September 30 - Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Trade policy is central to the formulation of government strategies to ensure Canada’s future prosperity. The trade policy environment is rapidly changing, however, as the centre of gravity in global governance continues to shift from the North Atlantic, and its focus on the major powers of Europe, to the countries that ring the Pacific. The emergence of China as a major player in all dimensions of global life—economic, diplomatic, military, cultural and environmental—motivates the current reorientation of Canadian trade policy strategy. That challenge is the focus of this course.
Current and future trade negotiations are addressing issues that stretch our understanding of the meaning of “trade policy”. New trading partners alter the shape of the negotiation environment; new approaches need to be found to advance Canadian trade interests. Canadians can use their diplomatic skills to influence the evolution of trade agreements, but Canadian leadership will depend on our analytic contribution not our economic weight. The purpose of this course is to help a new generation of federal, provincial and territorial trade policy practitioners to develop the analytic skills that the country needs. It is intended for mid-level officials who already have some experience with the basics of trade policy and negotiations .
The substantive focus of the course will be on opportunities in China; the analytic focus is on firms. When national competitiveness is invoked as a policy objective, trade experts have learned to retort that countries don't trade, firms do. This focus on the importance of the firm in international trade is consistent with the most recent developments in trade theory, but policy needs to catch up. Recent work on what some call the “new new trade theory” focuses on the trading behaviour of individual firms, making a tight link between trade and productivity. Given the centrality of productivity to Canadian public policy, this course will help participants begin to think about a new new trade policy and provide them with the analytic tools to enhance their trade policy formulation skills.
Growth in the world economy is increasingly coming from Asia, creating new opportunities for Canadian exporters, importers, investors and consumers, along with new challenges for Canadian policy makers. Canadian trade strategy must take account of the familiar story about new players (e.g. a growing middle class in China and India), technological change (which will have an effect on what is traded and where) and new business models (global value chains will lead to more goods and services crossing more borders more often, with attendant potential for conflict associated with policy externalities crossing borders).
Thinking about firms not just industries, and thinking about new partners in Asia, will lead to exciting new opportunities for Canadian trade negotiators. It will also create challenges. Explaining the new agenda to traditional interlocutors in business and other trade ministries will not be easy. Developing new models and data sources will also be difficult. But the payoff is the opportunity for more targeted trade policy and trade promotion. Even more important, the new new theory places trade policy at the heart of the government’s productivity agenda.
The emphasis of the course will be on trade strategy as a specialized mode of policy analysis, with seminar discussions in small groups focused on Canadian trade policy strategy in China. The course will expand knowledge of, and capacity to use, statistical, analytic and communications tools to formulate trade policy strategies and prepare for negotiations, with particular attention to issues on the new new trade policy agenda. Background reading material will be available on a special web page for participants in advance.
Expected enrolment is 40 people. The cost of $1,750 plus HST includes all meals and teaching materials. Travel to and from Kingston, as well as two nights’ accommodation, will be the responsibility of the participants.