COVID-19 ushered in a paradigm shift in the world of international trade

As borders closed to contain the pandemic and supply chains for personal protective equipment became ultra-competitive, many countries began to look inward to find stable and safe supplies for these important items. 

As the world begins to recover from the coronavirus’ first wave and its economies start to reopen, it’s important for Canada to find a firm footing in the new international trade dynamics as a champion of reliable and secure global supply chains.

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Our importers and exporters need to be able to do what they do best - keep Canadians supplied with what we need to live our daily lives.

While the Liberals and the NDP agreed to keep Parliament shut down, Conservative Members of the International Trade Committee had been busy meeting with businesses and organizations across many economic sectors.

Not surprisingly, we have heard the same thing over and over again - the need for diversified supply chains, secure supply chains, and new markets – these are three straightforward policy directions Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government couldn’t get right before the pandemic, which doesn’t give me much hope for their chances in the present.

Diversified supply chains are going to be key in a post-COVID world.

We have seen that countries around the globe have fared differently in terms of containing the virus. Canada must prevent something like our pharmaceutical supply chain from grinding to a halt as a result of a second outbreak in one particular country.

The Liberal government needs to work with Canada’s business community to ensure we have multiple sources for vital equipment, medicines and supplies that can withstand second and third waves of COVID-19, or a whole new virus altogether.

Just as diversified supply chains are a must for the future, secure supply chains are equally as critical.

Canada needs to build supply chains with our allies – like-minded countries who will have our back no matter what.

To be clear - China is not our ally.

Conservatives are not advocating for stopping our trade with China. Rather, Canada must be smart about it. It’s in our nation’s best interest to ensure critical supply chains are built with our traditional allies so in times of crisis we don’t have to worry about our supply of PPE.

Some countries have already begun this work via the “Economic Prosperity Network” comprised of the United States, Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam, with the sole aim of optimizing critical supply chains amongst themselves to reduce their reliance on others, particularly China.

It’s disheartening to know that Canada does not sit at this table, especially when we have free trade agreements with all but one of these partners. This is an opportunity Canada could have capitalized on; but either the Liberal government was not invited or declined to join. Additionally, as the United States continues to pull away from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and chooses to not engage in reforming the WTO appellate body, we must continually seek alternate opportunities to engage with our neighbour to the south in discussing and partnering on global supply chains.