Britain's Entry into the European Economic Community and Its Effect on Canada's Agricultural Exports
Ron Goldsmith is a professor of Geography at the Ryerson Polytechnical
Traditionally, Canada, along with other Commonwealth nations, has enjoyed a privileged trading position with respect to Great Britain. This position, characterized in particular by preferential tariff rates, has been significantly altered since 1973, when Britain entered the European Economic Community. The EEC is founded upon several principles, two of which are the removal of most tariff barriers between member nations and the imposition of common tariff barriers against commodities imported from non-member countries. Such an arrangement clearly poses significant challenges for traditional trading partners.
This short study, carried out under the auspices of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, is an attempt to calculate the impact of Britain’s entry into the EEC on one facet of Canada’s export system — agricultural products. The general conclusion is that our agricultural exports to Britain have indeed been hindered by the loss of preferential tariffs and certain other EEC policies. Nadeau provides a further breakdown by type of commodity, illustrating that few products have maintained their pre-1973 market share of British agricultural imports, and that Britain’s relative importance as a purchaser of Canadian food products has declined significantly over the last decade.
Nadeau’s study also presents an overview of agricultural policies currently in place within the EEC. Although informative in its own right, this discussion drifts into areas somewhat tangential to the central purposes of the work at hand. Additionally, a chapter on methodological approaches to understanding the economic impacts of the EEC is presented.
In general, Nadeau’s work provides a useful description of how one facet of Canada’s agricultural industry has been affected by external market changes. While Nadeau does not delve heavily into the area of policy implications, one might hope that the ultimate role of this study will be that of a contributor to the much larger enterprise of establishing a national agricultural policy based upon economic, ecological, and agronomic considerations.