A couple of days ago I commended Conservative MP and leadership candidate Erin O’Toole for advancing the notion that he would “advance a Canada-Australia-New Zealand-United Kingdom (CANZUK) trade pact that grants Canadians the right to live and work in there countries,” and, presumably, the other way around, too. He was doing so, he said, because “With a common language, shared culture and deep historical ties, a stronger relationship with these countries is a no brainer.” This is not a new idea, in fact, it just resurfaced, again, in the wake of the Brexit, in an article by British scholar/journalist Dr Andrew Lilico in the Financial Post. I commented on the original article last August and then, later, expanded my comments to deal with military issues.
I am, broadly and generally, in favour of a CANZUK grouping, especially now, when we must all deal with President Trump’s America.
First, I am a committed free(er) trader. My reading of history is that free(er) trade always leads to greater peace and prosperity and that, conversely, protectionism usually paves the way for recessions, depressions and wars.
Second, the time seems ripe. Given the global trade situation ~ Brexit, Trump, the demise of the TPP, etc ~ and given that Canada (and Australia and New Zealand, too, I guess) and Britain are interested in a free(er) trade deal it might be an opportune moment to hit the pause button, briefly, and engage in a four-way negotiation since we are, all four, likely to have very similar aims. Canada has, probably, reached tentative and tentatively acceptable agreements with Australia and New Zealand in the TPP negotiations and we have made equally tentative and acceptable agreements with Britain during the CETA negotiations. It shouldn’t be beyond the wit of men and women of good-will to broaden and deepen those agreements for the mutual benefit of all four partners. (Although Mr O’Toole’s professed support for supply management may be a problem as it is, I think, one of the things we agreed to sacrifice for the TPP and it, ending supply management of the egg and dairy sector, is a long-standing Australian/NZ demand.) It might make it easier for all four of us to deal with America, the ASEAN nations, China, the European Union and India, amongst others if we are reasonably united, homogeneous trade block of four friendly nations with a population of (Dr Lilico’s figures) 128 million people, a combined GDP of $(US) 6.5 Trillion, and global trade worth more than US$3.5 Trillion (versus around US$4.8 T for the U.S., US$4.2 T for China, or US$1.7 T for Japan).
Militarily, the four might find some grounds for further and even deeper cooperation ~ ideally, in the long term, on shared defence requirements definition … deciding, in advance, to harmonize operational requirements for “big ticket” items like ships, aircraft, tanks and electronics …
… and then, whenever politically possible, to enter into combined, multinational procurement exercises to leverage the advantages of the greater size of the combined requirement for lower prices. This is a possibility that is fraught with political difficulty but which could deliver real, measurable financial benefits to all four countries.
Equally, the four nations, acting in concert, perhaps with Singapore added, too, might be able to exert more and better influence on e.g. United Nations peacekeeping operations.
It is, in any event, an intriguing notion that deserves more discussion, and I hope the media and other Conservatives will press Mr O’Toole to expand upon it.