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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Canadian export interests and challenges from the Pacific Richards, Donald Peter


From early colonial times the Canadian economy, highly dependent on exports, has developed a pluralist economic system in a generally congenial international environment. Since 1970 however, the Canadian economy has been challenged, albeit at the margins, by unfamiliar impacts largely originating in the Pacific economy. The institutional reactions of relevant Canadian export interests - defined as the federal government, provincial governments and a small number of Canadian firms - have, on the whole, proved inadequate to these challenges. This inadequacy threatens Canadian domestic prosperity and constrains economic and political options internationally. This study hypothesizes that an adequate response to these new challenges depends on institutional adaptation within and among Canadian export interests. Six principles are advanced to promote this adaptation: 1. the priority of economic considerations; 2. the legitimate role of government; 3. full provincial participation; 4. coordination by the national government; 5. an authoritative voice for each interest; 6. better sharing and use of information. The six principles are applied in three case studies. The first concerns the international marketing challenge posed by the Japanese general trading company (soga shosha), and the Canadian government's initiative to create a Canadian trading corporation. The application of the six principles suggests an alternative proposal, the Canadian Commercial Centre, in which Canadian export interests develop and share information in a way which recognizes the appropriate role of each and the obligation of all to attain a greater coherence. The second case study concerns the recent Western Liquid Natural Gas (WLNG) project which featured a new form of investment (the minority interest joint venture coupled with a long-term supply contract) in which a consortium of Japanese buyers represented by a Japanese general trading company sought to reach agreement with an uncoordinated collection of Canadian firms and governments. The lack of coherence among these Canadian interests was at least a contributing factor in the loss of an opportunity to expand and diversify Canadian LNG markets. The application of the six principles to the WLNG case yields an alternative Canadian approach involving the early establishment of a committee of authoritative officials from the relevant Canadian interests, and a new coordinating role for a federal agency like the (now disbanded) Ministry of State for Economic and Regional Development and the Federal Economic Development Coordinator. The final case study concerns the challenge to trade and investment represented by the movement to a Pacific economic community, notably the Pacific Economic Community concept (PECC). The current reactions of such institutions as the Canadian committee of the Pacific Basin Economic Council and the federal Department of External Affairs are assessed, leading to the recommendation that the Canadian government should involve a wider constituency of current and potential Canadian export interests in an educational policy process which may bear on Canada's future prosperity and political resilience.

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