CALGARY, April 17, 2014 /CNW/ - In a report published today by The School of Public Policy, author Wendy Dobson examines the deepening relationship between the world's two largest economies – China and the United States – and argues Canada needs a strategy for deeper integration with Asia.
Specifically, she stresses the need for a long-term "strategic framework to replace the ad hoc, warm and cool politics and economics of the past few years."
Dobson identifies several problem areas that need to be fixed when it comes to improving Canada's relationships with Asian countries, but trade and investment should be a major focus.
"A well-known factor undermining the seriousness of Canadian interest in Asia is that we failed to complete any free-trade agreements with Asian countries at a time when such agreements were proliferating within the region and beyond as barometers of friendly foreign relations," she writes.
The author acknowledges that the recent Canada-South Korea trade agreement broke this logjam, but stresses the need to secure further deals.
In terms of investment, Dobson argues that Canada's policies have become opaque in definition and application, which will deter future investment into critical sectors like energy. She recommends that focusing on a firm's ownership structure (whether it is a state-owned enterprise for example) is misguided. Instead, Canada should focus on firm behaviour by enhancing the capabilities of its existing regulatory apparatus to enforce adherence to Canadian rules and standards by foreign firms investing in Canada.
Canada should also make a greater effort to develop a "Canada brand" in Asian countries and raise its geopolitical profile, Dobson contends. This starts with a workable mechanism to coordinate a long-term strategy, convened by the federal government and involving key players from provincial governments, the private sector, educational institutions and other stakeholders working toward the same goals.
Finally, Dobson argues that high-level, constructive participation in Asia's regional institutions would help boost Canada's brand. She predicts that the East Asian Summit will become the region's apex institution, and with countries like India, the U.S. and Russia already participating, Canada should get on board as well.
SOURCE: The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary
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