Thursday, March 05, 2009

New Trade Ties... Vancouver, Asia-Pacific, and Our Trade Future

Tell me again... besides proximity, why DO we keep all our trade "eggs" in the American "basket"?  Is it laziness?  Convenience?

We are currently witnessing what happens when our economy is hopelessly and helplessly tied to the "elephant next door".  While it is good to trade with our friends and neighbors to the South, is a whole-sale "sell-out" really necessary?

Should we be more protective of our "home" industries and business?  Our home-bred creative talent?

Is "NAFTA", or "free trade" the best plan for Canada?  And, IF free trade, with whom?  How can we avoid the financial pitfalls of the global (American controlled) finance system?

It seems India could be an answer to many of these questions...  A land of opportunity for Canadians.  Our multicultural strength (thank you Mr. Trudeau) has blessed us with many South-Asian-Canadians with strong links to India and the surrounding region.  We have large populations of Asian/South-Asian Canadians in Pacific-Rim cities like Vancouver, Victoria, and even Duncan and Nanaimo.  These Canadians have a natural "in" with politicians and business people in their ancestral homelands.

With the fast-growing middle classes, there is incredible opportunity in putting Canadian talents to work.  For certain there is simple "trade".  Beyond trade, however, lies the "new economy".  We cannot let the Developing World make the same economic and environmental mistakes we have in the West.  WE are still responsible for a vast majority of global greenhouse gases.  Our technologies and expertise are required in the Developing World, to ensure our mistakes aren't repeated.  To teach new ways.  We can export our expertise by sending Canadian-born 2nd and 3rd generation South Asians to a land they understand and can communicate with.  We can bring their best and brightest over here, to teach, and hopefully to keep some of that expertise.  

The "lessons learned" could go both ways:  they can gain knowledge, and an understanding of our "industrial revolution experiences", while we can learn how to protect our home grown businesses, how to have a strong bureaucracy, and how to live with less - in a "post-consumerist" world...  Maybe NAFTA isn't such a good idea.  Maybe the WTO is NOT good for everyone?  Remember, India is one of the few "power-broker" nations to stand against the WTO...

This from today’s New York Times:

India’s trillion-dollar economy remains a relative bright spot, some say, in part because the country’s bureaucracy and its protectionist polices have kept it insulated from the fallout of the global downturn…

The market capitalization of the State Bank of India recently surpassed that of Citigroup, a fact heralded by the local media….

India added 15.4 million cellphone users in January, a record….

And this from the Feb 23 issue of Newsweek:

Though it may not look it on the ground at times, India is one of the few bright spots in a global economy with decidedly dim prospects in 2009. It is forecast to grow at 5 to 6 percent this year-which is more than it averaged in the 1990s. Yes, its stock market has crashed, unemployment is spiking, swaths of the real-estate market have more than a passing resemblance to Miami Beach and it now turns out that Satyam Computer Services-one of the country’s top five IT companies-has been cooking its books. But a one-off incident of fraud in the flagship IT sector won’t knock the country off the rails. India boasts an unlikely growth driver all its own: legions of poor whose incomes have risen just enough in recent years to create powerful demands for basic goods and services.

The rise of India’s aspiring middle-a group that lives above the poverty line but hasn’t yet attained true membership in modern consumer society-is hardly a new story. But what’s surprising is the resilience of this cohort, and the extent to which it has counterbalanced the global credit crisis and the slump in the global export economy of which India is a key player…

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