23 April 2010

Fragile Economy: now three steps back …and loving it

Not only did the provincial government explicitly refuse to participate in talks that would diversify the provincial economic trade base, its members are proud of it:

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, what this government is very, very proud of is we are the only jurisdiction of thirteen jurisdictions in all of Canada who has not gone along with the European Free Trade Agreement which Canada is trying to enter into. We are the only ones who have stood our ground and said we are not prepared to agree unless there are certain conditions. The seal industry, of course, is obviously one; the shrimp tariff is another one. …

But if that wasn’t bad enough, the Premier justified the position by claiming that it had worked in one important respect:

We have been very successful in having the shrimp tariff reduced and, in fact, removed over time. It has made a huge difference to the shrimp industry. [Emphasis added]

The first problem is that “we” – the Premier and his ministers – didn’t have very much to do with lowering the shrimp tariff in the first place.

And the second problem is that “we” did not accomplish this by boycotting important trade talks.

Sure the Premier and his fisheries minister took a much publicised junket to Europe, but there isn’t much sign they did much else except try to take credit for lowering the shrimp tariff back in 2007 before the trade talks were on. Someone else did the work.

By the way, if you take a look at that last link you’ll see this line:

Fishery Products International said about half of its shrimp is exported to the United Kingdom alone.

That would be the same Fishery Products International that had a European trade division “we” helped sell off in the break-up of FPI.

But anyway, not only are “we” no longer one step back, “we” are now not even a mere two steps back.

Provincial trade policy is effectively three steps backward:  headed in the wrong direction, proud of it and then justifying the gross strategic mistake by claiming credit for things the backward-assed policy didn’t do in the first place.

If the first step toward any solution is admitting there’s a problem, “we” are a long way from solving very much when it comes to provincial trade policy.