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Canada First vs. America First: Economic Nationalism and the Evolution of Canada-U.S. Trade Relations

Hubert Rioux

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Abstract


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Abstract

Even though the nationalist policies of the current U.S. administration have taken the appearance of a radical shift away from the (neo)liberal approaches of preceding governments, they in fact represent the latest protectionist manifestation of the American system of industrial development and trade, characterised by economic nationalism since the Civil War of 1861-1865 and beyond. Recent trade disputes between the U.S. and Canada, from this perspective, have to be construed in light of a century and a half long evolution of trade relations between the two countries, profoundly marked by the mutations of American economic nationalism. Yet, Canada itself was never immune to protectionist tendencies. In fact, Canada was for a long time during the 20th century more protectionist than the U.S., and many of its own nationalist trade policies from the 1860s onward had significant effects on commercial relationships with the latter. The main objective of this article is therefore that of contextualisation: it paints a picture of the evolution of Canada-U.S. trade policies and relationships which brings “economic nationalism” back in. Its main argument is that these relationships have been characterised by a constant tension between liberalisation and protection, to which Canadian governments have contributed in many ways.

Keywords: Canada, United States, Economic Nationalism, Trade, Protectionism, Liberalisation


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