Spreading the Wealth: How Globalization and Trade Can Be More Inclusive for More People

The Conference Board of Canada, May 30, 2018
Recorded Webinar by
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The rapid expansion of international trade in recent decades has improved Canadian living standards and lifted a billion people out of poverty. But a backlash has arisen in advanced developed countries against globalization, in part because the gains of international trade appear to be inadequately shared. The Canadian government has implemented a multi-pronged “progressive trade agenda”. A more inclusive approach to trade requires Canadian policymakers to accommodate those who may lose jobs and income due to trade disruption (such as blue-collar manufacturing workers) and those who have not yet been able to seize trade opportunities – such as women, smaller businesses (SMEs), immigrants, and Indigenous Peoples. In this webinar, Brent Dowdall presents the findings of new Conference Board analysis of how inclusive Canada’s current trade profile is, and ways in which the benefits of trade can be shared more widely.

Webinar Highlights

During this recorded webinar Brent discusses the evidence about the inclusiveness of Canada’s trade, and potential policy responses:

  • Factors related to disenchantment with trade and globalization include stagnant middle-class wages, income inequality, the role of automation, and the impact of job loss due to trade.
  • Women are underrepresented in export industries and face a significant wage gap in export industries. Women account for over half of Canada’s jobs in domestic industries, but less than a quarter of jobs in Canada’s export industries. In export industries, women earn close to $17,000 less than men at the median, an even larger gap than the $11,000 in domestic industries.
  • Even though many of Canada’s resource exports originate near Indigenous communities, Indigenous peoples are not seeing enough employment and income benefits from modern trade. Indigenous people working in export industries have an income gap of roughly $6400 with their non-Indigenous counterparts.
  • Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for an overwhelming number of businesses —and exporters —in Canada. However, SMEs represent a comparatively small share of the value of Canadian exports.
  • Immigrant-owned businesses actually export more than business that are owned by non-immigrants. However, immigrants in export industries earn almost $4000 less than non-immigrants in the same industries. In addition, immigrants’ natural strengths that could improve access to international markets – such as language, culture, and contacts – are underutilized in Canadian businesses.
  • A more inclusive trade agenda for Canada requires a focus on several aspects, including: impact of trade on communities and individuals, adjustment periods, awareness of technological impacts, opportunities from newer types of trade, and the impact of trade on those in other markets.

About Brent

Brent Dowdall is Senior Manager, Research and Business Development, at The Conference Board of Canada. His responsibilities include developing economic webinars and conferences, supporting communications activities on selected Conference Board projects, and managing individual projects that promote dialogue and engagement among business, government and not-for-profit decision-makers.

Brent’s research work ranges from co-authoring Centre for the North Five-Year Compendium Report, Building a Resilient and Prosperous North, to co-authoring the Global Commerce Centre’s recommendations for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA 2.0 and Canada: Upgrading a 20th Century Deal for a 21st Century World. He reviewed the Global Commerce Centre research and edited the publications on inclusive trade.

Brent joined The Conference Board of Canada in 2002 as Senior Communications Specialist and served for 12 years in the Corporate Communications department before joining the Economics division in 2014. Prior to joining the Conference Board, Brent was a journalist at local newspapers in Eastern Ontario. Brent has a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master of Arts in Political Science, both from Carleton University.

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