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Ten things you should know about the Canadian economy

January 28, 2011

Above: Paul Storer and Debra Glassman, Faculty Director of the Global Business Center.

By Paul Storer, Western Washington University

On Thursday January 27, I gave a presentation on “Ten Things You Should Know about the Canadian Economy” to a group of more than a hundred University of Washington students from a variety of Foster School of Business programs, including those enrolled in the Certificate in International Business program. My objective was to give students a briefing on key details about the Canadian economy and Canada-U.S. economic interdependence and I used numerous visual images to illustrate these facts. Many of the students planned to visit Canada in the near future as part of their coursework and all are involved in international activities that would be enhanced by greater knowledge of the Canada-US economic relationship.

Of course, the first of the ten items related the fact that the United States and Canada have the world’s largest bilateral trading relationship—a relationship often undervalued by many Americans and occasionally reported erroneously by the media. U.S. imports of Canadian energy products and the importance of making things together via “apples-to-apples” trade were also mentioned as contributing to competitiveness in North America. Stereotyped images of the Canadian economy as a resource-intensive hinterland were addressed and contrasted with the dynamic transportation, services, and technology sectors of the modern Canadian economy. Further comparative analysis of Canada’s banking and health care systems was encouraged as they are both issues at the forefront of the current American political agenda.

After the formal presentation, students asked many insightful questions on a wide range of issues. One student asked which factors had led to the recent successes of Bombardier’s aerospace division while another asked about the role of the Canadian banking system. Students also asked whether Canada and the United States should follow the European model and adopt a common currency or whether I would recommend further enhancements to NAFTA that would strengthen the North American economic space. I enjoyed this opportunity to interact with the students at the UW and hope that I helped them to have a deeper appreciation of the importance of the Canada-U.S. economic partnership.

Paul Storer is Professor and Chair of the Economics Department at Western Washington University. He teaches courses and publishes research related to the Canada-U.S economic relationship. Storer has previous experience working as an economist at the Bank of Canada and as an Associate Professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

This lecture is part of a new partnership between the Canadian Studies and Global Business Center – North American Economic Partnerships – to increase Canadian content in business courses and programming. It provided information for Foster School of Business students participating in the Pacific Northwest Economic Conference and the 2011 MBA Canada Study Tour.