While many parts of the globe celebrate the 2010 World Cup, Canada is quietly showing off its competitive edge in another world cup by advancing policies that promote freer trade and economic freedom.
Canadian lawmakers recently scored a nice goal by approving a free trade pact with Colombia, a move that will give Canadian ranchers and farmers a sharp advantage over American producers. Although the pact still needs a final ok from the Canadian senate, the voice for freer trade was decisive, as shown in the House of Commons’ 188 to 70 votes in favor of the trade deal with Colombia. As Canadian Trade Minister Peter Van Loan pointed out, “In adopting this free trade agreement, Canada will be in a very strong competitive position vis-à-vis our other competition around the world.”
As a matter of fact, Colombia is—or should be—a strong U.S. trade and investment ally. The U.S. completed free trade negotiations with Colombia in 2006, months before Canada even started its first round of trade negotiation with the country! Colombia’s Congress had approved the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement in 2007!! Yet it sits in Washington, with no sign by the Obama Administration that approval is imminent or even desired.
So score one for Canada, while the U.S., under the leadership of President Obama and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, seems content to talk its way into overtime.
Early this year, the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom, the Heritage Foundation’s data driven policy guide, reported that our economy is no longer in the top tier of economically free countries. By contrast, Canadians have unmistakably moved their economy to the direction of freer trade, lower deficits, lower taxes, and lower debt. Canada’s relatively prudent federal budget management, coupled with sound fiscal reforms, has also enabled the economy to sharpen its long-term competitiveness. The U.S. could use a few scores like that.