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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Canadian trade policy, 1945-1953 Weihs, Frederick H.

Abstract

In investigating the integration of the Canadian and American economies after World War II, most writers have focused on the influence of the American multinational corporations and on the activities of the American government. Little attention has been paid to the important role of the Canadian government in furthering this process and to the significance of trade and trade policy. This thesis examines the evolution of Canadian trade policy between 1945 and 1953. The main sources for this study are the private papers of government ministers and the files of Canadian government departments. Since there have been no major studies of the development of trade policy in this period, a chronological structure has been employed for the analysis. Post-war Canadian trade policy can be divided into two periods. During the first period, 1945 to 1947, the government attempted to re-establish the pre-war pattern of multilateral trade. The means employed to attain this goal —the introduction of a free market system in international trade—represented a significant departure from traditional Canadian trade policy. The traditional policy is outlined in chapter one, and in chapter two the economic, political, and ideological factors underlying the new policy are examined. However, the foreign exchange crisis of 1947, examined in chapter three, produced a rapid retreat from the policy of multilateralism based on free-market trading. The government, seeking a solid base for Canadian trade to promote economic development, turned to a system of bilateral, regulated trade with the United States. Continental economic integration became a key element of trade policy. The development of this policy and the crucial ties between trade policy and defence are explored in the final chapter.

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