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The Three Pillars

Thank you for participating in the Dialogue on Foreign Policy. The interactive web site is now closed. The Minister's report will appear on this web site once it is released.

This Forum is bilingual, and participants post messages in their language of choice.

Modification of Three Pillars

Contributor: sheldong

Date: 2003-03-04 10:46:52

First I would like to quickly review facts presented in “A Dialogue on Foreign Policy”. Canada currently has three main “pillars” of foreign policy. Specifically they are as follows, the protection of our security within a stable global framework; the promotion of prosperity and employment; and the promotion of the values and culture that Canadians cherish.

The question has been posed in “A Dialogue on Foreign Policy” whether Canada should continue with this three-pillar approach or should we modify our policy in some manner. I believe the fact that the government has brought this to the public opinion indicates that there are people who believe it is time for some modifications.

When first pondering this issue I found myself imagining how our current foreign policy affects other countries and how a change of policy would affect them. Then I realized that this thought should actually be secondary. First and foremost it should be decided how these changes will affect us as a nation.

In a very simplified manner it seems to me that one country can interact with another country in two manners. They can interact in a business sense, meaning you export goods to them and/or import goods from them. The other possible interaction would be that of a military action, be it in defense of your country or in conquest of another. These two interactions are for obvious reasons mutually exclusive.

Both interaction types are essentially ways for one country to obtain something from another that it needs for some reason. Both have a cost associated with them, monetary and otherwise. Both will cost money, in one situation it is given to the other country in exchange for goods in the other there is the cost encountered when building the weapons, training the soldiers, transporting them both to the other countries etc... However only one of these interactions will cost lives.

I’m not going to launch into a big pro-peace anti-war rant now. Even though it may seem the stage is set for that. I’m no longer young and innocent enough to believe that war is not necessary sometimes. There are situations where lives must be sacrificed for the greater good. I really just wanted to point out some of the things to one country must consider when deciding how to interact with another.

In the last decade or so the idea of a global community has grown in leaps and bounds. Much of this has to do mainly with the free flow of information allowed to us through the Internet. The worldwide web as we know it has really only existed since 1994 when it first began to be used for commercial business. While our foreign policy was last updated in 1995, which was before the Internet had truly ripened. With the current situation more than ever before business is unconstrained by geographical limitations.

According to the “Encyclopedia Britannica Almanac 2003” Canada imports approximately 363 billion dollars worth of goods and services per year, 67.2% of this from the United States. The next largest percentage is from Japan whom account for 4.7%, followed by Mexico 3.0%, China 2.8%, U.K. 2.5%; Germany 2.2%; France 1.7%; Taiwan 1.4%; with Italy and South Korea accounting for 1.1% each. Canada Exports approximately 422.5 billion dollars of goods and services per year, 86.8% of this goes to the United States. Once again we have Japan as a not so close second accounting for 2.5%, followed by the U.K. 1.3% and South Korea 0.6%.

The United States import approximately 2 trillion dollars worth of goods and services per year. Roughly 19.3% of this comes from Canada, 12.8% followed by Japan with 12.8%; Mexico 10.7%; China 8.0 %; Germany 5.4%; UK 3.8%; Taiwan 3.4%; South Korea 3.0%; France 2.5%; Italy 2.2%; Singapore 1.8%; Thailand 1.4%; Philippines 1.2%; and finally Brazil accounting for 1.1%. The United States export approximately 695 billion dollars of goods and services per year. It’s major export trading partners are as follows, Canada 23.9%; Mexico 13.2%; Japan 8.3%; UK 5.4%; Germany 3.8%; South Korea 3.3%; Taiwan 2.8%; The Netherlands 2.8%; France 2.7%; Singapore 2.3%; Brazil 1.9%; China 1.9%.

These may at first glance seem like boring facts and numbers best left to the bean counters. But they show us one rather disturbing trend. We depend on the United States in a trading sense much more than they depend on us. We are essentially putting all of our eggs in one basket. Most people would agree that diversification is a good idea in personal finance. Therefore I simply propose that the concept of trade diversification should be incorporated into our foreign policy.

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Modification of Three Pillars

Contributor: simms

Date: 2003-03-04 12:41:30

I agree entirely.

Although economic independence from American interests is (to say the least) not usually seen in a good light by Washington, it is vital that Canada diversify its trading partners.

This is especially true given the fact that the American petro-dollar's unquestioned supremacy in the world markets is beginning to falter with the introduction of a strong European currency.

(see http://print.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=1496&group=webcast for more info on this subject)

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Modification of Three Pillars

Contributor: Fritzpat

Date: 2003-04-12 16:03:46

Bien sûr que la diversification économique a tout son sens surtout avec l'émergeance d'une monnaie européenne forte et autonome.Nous ne sommes qu'à quelques miles marins de l'europe, pourquoi nous obstiner à utiliser la voie terrestre alors qu'aucune n'égale le transport maritime, quoique plus lent, il est tout de même plus économique et permet le transport de plus grandes quantités de biens.

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Modification of Three Pillars

Contributor: cfallon

Date: 2003-04-15 11:38:28

Although the EURO is a strong currency, it is not entirely accurate to say the US dollar has faltered with its introduction. Since its introduction, the EURO has lost value against the US dollar virtually every month. Lately, the EURO has been doing better.

Anyway, the US dollar is over-valued right now.

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Modification of Three Pillars

Contributor: puconjones

Date: 2003-04-26 10:51:32

Canada should continue with the trend towards Free Trade agreements with Latin American countries. These emerging economies need a stable and honest trading partner to help develop their resources. Even though they do not figure in the percentages (with the exception of Mexico) over the next ten years we should see a steady rise in economic trade.

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