Canadians are getting less and less impressed by their trade deals, and that’s not a good thing for Canadian businesses and businesses across the globe.
The latest numbers from the International Trade Institute show that just 17% of Canadians are satisfied with the quality of trade deals they are getting, according to a recent survey.
And that’s only for those who are still looking for a good deal.
The institute has released its annual report, which covers 2016.
It shows that the top five reasons for dissatisfied trade outcomes in Canada are: poor enforcement of intellectual property rights (59%), inadequate labour protections (56%), and low quality exports (53%).
It also found that people are less satisfied with how Canadian goods are priced in other countries (51%).
It’s a big problem for a country that exports nearly $20 trillion worth of goods every year.
The Institute says that the most popular reason given for the lack of satisfaction is that trade deals are too restrictive, with many Canadians saying they feel they can’t move their jobs abroad.
But some of the more common complaints are: too little protection for workers (51%) and too much protection for small businesses (50%).
And in some cases, those complaints aren’t just about labour, they’re about the lack or lack of protection for consumers as well.
And the number one complaint is that Canadian companies don’t feel they are treated fairly in international trade agreements.
“It’s hard for us to do business internationally because of our rules and regulations, our taxes and all of that, and they all come out of the same pockets, so it’s very difficult to do,” says Brian Raine, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Americas.
“There’s not much transparency, and it’s just too hard for companies to know how their tax dollars are being spent.”
The report also found a lot of Canadians still don’t understand how much the rest of the world’s trade deals cost.
While the institute says the United States, Germany and other major economies make up a large part of the market, they account for only 12% of the $18 trillion in annual trade.
That’s more than the U.K., France, Japan and Canada combined.
So, why aren’t they getting the kind of protection they deserve?
The Institute said the answer is complicated.
“We don’t have an effective system of accountability for the governments of all countries that we work with,” says Paul Waugh, the institute’s president.
“If we didn’t have such a system, then it would be much easier to make trade agreements.”
But Waugh said it’s important to keep in mind that many of these complaints stem from trade agreements that were negotiated under a previous government, so there may be some truth to them.
“I think we’re in a different place,” Waugh says.
“That’s a real concern.
We’re not seeing the same levels of interest and engagement from governments.”
That could change if the Liberals are re-elected in 2019, he says.
The Conservatives also have a reputation for being a tough negotiator, but there are some things the Conservatives could learn from their past experience.
“When we were in opposition we negotiated a lot in good faith, and we didn.
But there’s an issue of trust,” says Waugh.
“The way we negotiate is we trust our negotiating partners.
That is a difficult thing to do in these negotiations.
But we do.”