On August 9 and 10, 2009, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mexican President Felipe Calderón and United States President Barack Obama will meet in Guadalajara, Mexico for the 5th North American Leaders’ Summit. The leaders will discuss trade and the economic recession, border security, climate change, H1N1, drugs and arms.
> “Strengthening the Neighborhood: the Guadalajara Trilateral Summit” by Jennifer Jeffs, Acting President, CIC and Shannon O’Neil, Douglas Dillon fellow for Latin America Studies, CFR
> Security and Prosperity Partnership Of North America website
> Reuters article on the summit agenda
On May 28th, 2009, Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Canada, delivered the keynote address at the CIC-Vancouver Branch Conference. Clark discusses how Canada can make a significant contribution to international affairs in the new world of the dominant emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
On May 28th, 2009, Jim O’Neill, Managing Director and Head of Global Economic Research, Goldman Sachs International, London, delivered the keynote address at the CIC-Vancouver Branch Conference. O’Neill’s presentation argues that the financial crisis has tested the BRIC countries’ economic models, and the resulting consensus is that these economies will lead the world.
On May 27, Canada’s World and CIC collaborated in convening a day-long Youth Symposium that followed the deliberative the dialogue process developed by Canada’s World. The Symposium was held at the Segal Centre at Simon Fraser University’s downtown Vancouver campus and brought together a diverse group of 35 young people, most aged between 18 and 24, to share their knowledge and opinions on Canada’s engagements with the emerging powers.
The day consisted of an array of interactive and dynamic activities that allowed the group to build knowledge and insight to propose broad directions and actions for Canadian engagement with the BRIC countries.
Among the burning questions Symposium participants posed around Canada’s relations with the emerging powers were: How realistic is it to say we can be less dependent on the US? Why is it important for Canada to maintain a strong influence on the world stage? Why should we care about Canada’s relations with the BRIC countries? Do we care? How are BRIC countries collaborating with each other? Should we strategically engage more with certain BRIC countries than others? What resources do we have to leverage our influence and which are lacking? Can we learn from the experience and foreign policy positions of others, such as Australia? What about working to engage the countries likely to emerge after the BRIC countries?
The Symposium was very successful, generating a wide range of policy directions and options. Participants left feeling engaged, valued and well equipped to think about Canadian policy towards the BRICs and other countries. Please watch the websites of the Canadian International Council and Canada’s World for an event summary that will be posted on each soon.
-Jordan Dupuis, Program Director, Canadian International Council
This whole conference has been about predictions, but unfortunately the history of predictions ain’t so good. You may recall that in the 1980s, Japan was set to become the world’s number one economic power; instead, Japan has gone in and out of recessions for most of the last twenty years. Remember the USSR, that economic and military fortress that would last forever? No one predicted the wall would come down so quickly. And how about Goldman Sachs? They just missed the bullet of self-destruction, so who are they to tell us what comes next?
John Bell, speaking about Brazil, made the point that Canada focuses too much on irritants such as the tiresome fight between Bombardier and Embrauer. I would say the same about relations with other powers. We allowed relations with India to be poisoned for many years because of our unhappiness with their nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998. Our handling of the human rights and Tibet issues is so poor, in my view, that it has damaged our traditionally good relations with China.
Another thing that has come out of this conference is the need for Canada to clearly define when, how and where we will utilize our hard and soft power abroad. We heard how dangerous central Asia has become, and about the Chinese naval power build up in the South China Sea and in the Indian Ocean. Also that we may face threats from Russia, China and even Norway in the Arctic. How much capacity do we have to meet these threats? Not very much. How interested should we be in helping out? In our own Arctic, sure, but further abroad makes no sense. We are already overextended in Afghanistan, where we can barely meet our commitments.
Lastly, there is a yawn gulf between the traditional internationalism of just about everyone in the room and the policy of the current government. So here is a good, important question. What can we do to bridge that gulf?
-Douglas Goold, CIC Senior Research Fellow
Jeremy Kinsman’s discussion opened by suggesting that the G20 is good for Canada but that the government does not see it that way. The G20 has become the key global steering committee for global issues. UN is dysfunctional and deadlocked and cannot be managed by the UN. The G8 is finished and has no credibility. Canada has clung to the G8 because officials are thrilled to be part of a club of big guys.
Personalities and personal relationships are crucial in diplomacy. In order for Canada to play a role, it needs to be have influence. There are rule makers and rule takers. Canada used to be a prominent rule maker and was especially good at negotiating outcomes where trade-offs were involved.
Public diplomacy is modern diplomacy. Our public diplomacy is our communication with the world. Diplomats are sent to represent Canadians to the society to which they are sent. They need to showcase Canada’s pluralistic knowledge economy and brand the country effectively and authentically. Ambassadors can be brokers. Ottawa currently does not see diplomacy this way. Afghanistan cannot be our only foreign activity of consequence. It is not enough to boast that we are doing fine in Afghanistan and leave it at that, especially because we are not.
Joseph Caron suggested that Canada has a legitimate role in institutions like the G8 because we have some size and bring some resources (human, financial, ideas). In terms of determining how we play on the global stage and what our interests should be we need to look at Canadian interests beyond geopolitical ones. Civil society success is a public good and the influence of civil society can be greater than that of government.
Canada has been able to exercise a high degree of control over our relationship with China and because we have avoided geopolitics and focused on our strong trade and economic relationship. In contrast, Canada’s relationship with India has been driven by geopolitical realities and has suffered as a result. Canadian diplomacy can obtain better results when there is a strong civil society and issues considerer from the perspectives of the BRICs themselves.
Rob Huebert demonstrated the significant process of transformation taking place in the Arctic. It is changing in terms of its physical entity, biological entity, cultural context, geopolitical context, borders and resources. Each factor is interacting with the others, creating a complex situation with feedback loops. The nature of governance in the Arctic is a debate on the national, regional and global levels.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Russia is basing its continued economic and geopolitical strength on its northern regions, and that China is increasingly interested in using the Arctic as a navigation route. The future for the Arctic is either cooperation or conflict. Huebert suggested that cooperation can be based on the current situation of political goodwill; utilizing operators that already work well together; building on the acceptance of science-based language and the UN Law of the Sea; and moving forward on the history of non-conflict in the Arctic.
But the case for conflict in the Arctic is also very strong. There are weak institutions, undefined borders, a huge resource base, new technologies being created, involvement of major powers and increasing demands by non-Arctic countries. The North Sea is the only similar example that resulted in cooperation.
If we can maintain and build on cooperation, Canada and Russia should embrace cooperative search and rescue exercises and shipping practices. With China, there are opportunities for Canada to move forward constructively on oil and gas.
John Kirton identified five major ways in which the BRIC countries are influencing change in the international system and their impact on Canada. He highlighted the diffusion of relative capability, the dynamics of the power transition and the ability of the BRIC countries to restrain one another, new vulnerabilities in the system equalizing global capabilities; increased political openness in the BRIC countries; and institutions increasingly incorporating the rising powers (MEM, G8+5, G20) effectively.
A stable system benefits the status quo powers, and Canada is certainly one of those. Canada is performing well in terms of survival, sovereignty, security and relative capability.
International institutions are created to do distinctive things and the G8 was created to promote the values of open democracy, individual liberty and social advance. The G8’s performance has been expanding in recent years. It is a governance system on the rise, not on the decline. The G20 is a reinforcement of the G8 and is a product of the G8. The Canadian summit in 2010 will be a “G8+” summit with additional BRIC participants. Harper has announced open markets, climate change, democracy, human rights and rule of law for his 2010 G8 agenda.
-Laura Sunderland, Branch and Membership Coordinator, CIC
The broadest and most visionary of the presentations – a chat, really – came from Paul Evans, professor at the College for Interdisciplinary Affairs at UBC, on Global China. It may seem obvious that China, and its place in the world order, has changed dramatically over the past decade, but Paul gave several telling examples. It was only ten years ago that an article appeared in Foreign Affairs magazine, entitled “Does China Matter?” Since the answer to that question is now so clear, Paul suggested that an article in the same or a similar publication would now more likely be entitled, “What does China think?” Everyone wants to know, has to know, where China stands on the great questions of the day, but few are very clear on the answer.
A second example. A decade ago China was discussed largely in the context of the Asia Pacific region; more recently it has been talked about in the context of the G8 or G20; beyond that, there is even a plausible discussion around the idea of a G2, comprised of China and the United Sates.
Evans observed that while the West continues to concern itself about the (clearly outdated) world order that was brought into being at the end of the Second World War, China sees several potential different models, with quite different views of governance, human rights, and national sovereignty.
Finally, Evans raised the interesting question of whether, given the dramatic change in interests and values, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed in 1948 would be passed by today’s United Nations, a question that provoked an animated discussion.
-Douglas Goold, CIC Senior Research Fellow
Debra Steger opened by observing that the financial crisis is an opportunity to transform the international financial architecture so that it is more capable of dealing with future challenges and obstacles. Doing so would involve recasting the mandates and decision making structures of the international financial institutions to reflect the rising significance of the emerging and rapidly growing economies.
Steger sees an opportunity for Canada to contribute real expertise in such reshaping efforts, thereby increasing some of its recent lost economic influence. Canada finds its influence diluted in the G20 forum and we are not part of the new G7 at the WTO which includes the USA, European Union, Japan, China, India, Brazil and Australia.
Yuen Pau Woo thinks the current economic crisis does not mark a disjuncture of regional integration efforts in Asia begun in reaction to the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis; rather Asia is signals a move towards greater regional integration. He suggests the style and pattern of Asian growth needs to move from the export led model (which he also called the self-deprivation model) to one based more on domestic demand, especially as US consumption continues to decline. Particularly important in boosting domestic demand will be investments in regional infrastructure, providing social safety nets and investments in green technologies. Leaders of the Asian economies understand that addressing the financial crisis needs to be aimed at rebalancing growth in a longer term perspective rather than solely engaging in targeted short-term stimulus. He also noted that Asian regional integration is now path dependent and reinforcing.
Canada should attempt to rejuvenate its engagement with the Asia-Pacific communities and trans-Pacific cooperation. If it does not, Canada risks not being involved.
Chantal Blouin focused on the implications of China’s rise on Latin American economies. The last twenty years Latin America has seen a significant rise in sector-specific manufacturing competition from China coupled with a large rise in natural resource exports to China. This dynamic presents opportunities and challenges for Latin American countries and for Canada’s engagement with them. Blouin focused on a novel Chilean initiative investing mining royalties in knowledge and innovation development funds, something she sees as an opportunity for Canada to make expertise-led contributions.
Douglas Goold examined India’s significant potential for quick and sustained growth focusing on its favourable demographics, a strong and growing information technology sector, an active entrepreneurial class, a democratic political system, English competency and its potential as a geo-strategic partner for the US. He also identified several constraints to growth in India such as low literacy rates, poor education and health care systems, rural poverty, corruption and red tape, amongst other factors. In this context Goold sees that Canada has much to gain from actively expanding its economic and political links with India with positive moves having been made in recent years, particularly the nuclear deal on November 2008. He concluded by firmly placing the onus on Canada to engage, noting that Canada needs India and China more than either needs Canada.
-Jordan Dupuis, Program Director, Canadian International Council
Canada and Brazil both have complex relations with US. They work well together in Haiti, in mining throughout the region, in a variety of energy projects, and have joined efforts at the WTO in a number of cases. Yet, Canada is having a difficult time engaging Brazil. How can Canada convince Brazil of the benefits of engagement, and why is it important for it to do so?
Brazil is an important partner for Canada. Although trade flows are small compared to those between Canada and the US, in terms of the region, Brazil is the first or second most important relationship Canada has. Nonetheless, access to the growing Brazilian market would offer a much needed alternative to the US market. On the investment side, the scenario reflects the new global realities where the tables have turned. The purchase of Inco by CVRD brought Brazilian investments in Canada to unprecedented levels, which now far exceed Canadian investments in Brazil.
It is in the relationship with the US, however, that the two countries share strategic interests. While Canada is facing increasing pressures to change its production structures, particularly oil sands extraction and refining to comply with new environmental standards, Brazilian ethanol exports are being penalized because they are too competitive. Moreover, as Brazil starts to produce oil from the pre-salt reservoirs – which are extremely carbon intensive – they will also face the same hurdles Canadian production needs to comply to. The result is that both sides would benefit immensely if they came together to understand and attempt to influence US legislative process.
Yet, in spite of this reasoning and of the apparent commitment to the Americas, the Canadian government has not demonstrated with action that is ready to deal with Brazil as an equal partner. Political commitment would translate into Canada opening its markets to Brazilian ethanol, being ready to negotiate a trade agreement where it would put agriculture on the table, and even consider supporting Brazil in its bid for a seat in the UN Security Council. That would make Brazil pay attention.
Until such time as Canada matches its deeds with action, it is not likely that this relationship will improve significantly.
We would be most interested in your views. Do you agree? Do you have any suggestions?
Commentaire sur la présentation de Louise Fréchette “Strengthening global governance: the role of the BRIC countries”
L’émergence des BRICs est un facteur important pour comprendre les débats sur la transformation de la gouvernance mondiale. Pour ce qui est du Conseil de sécurité, les deux BRICS qui ne sont pas membres permanents, le Brésil et l’Inde, sont dans une compétition ouverte avec plusieurs autres pays tels que le Japon et l’Allemagne pour devenir membre permanents. Les autres membres du Conseil, incluant le Canada, tente de faire dérailler ce processus. La Chine maintient sa stratégie de ne pas prendre les devants dans les débats aux Nations-Unis, mais est devenu moins réticente au déploiement des missions des NU et les autres pays considèrent le soutien tacite de la Chine nécessaire lorsqu’ils font la promotion d’une initiative aux Nations-Unis. La Russie n’a jamais eu ces hésitations à prendre un rôle actif et visible. Elle demeure une puissance militaire importante et sur plusieurs enjeux, la Russie détient des atouts clés; son soutien demeure important.
Est-ce que les BRICS sont des agents de changement dans le débat sur la réforme des Nations Unis? Exception faite du Conseil de sécurité, ces pays n’ont pas été très impliqués. Les attentes sont grandes, mais pour l’instant seulement les pays occidentaux ont été actifs sur les questions de réformes des institutions de l’ONU. Les BRICs sont très hésitants dans le soutien au concept de la responsabilité de protéger, préférant non-interférence et négotiations aux sanctions et interventions. Sur la protection des droits humains, le Brésil et l’Inde demeurent souvent silencieux sur ce qui se passe à l’étranger, et demeure passifs et réactifs sur la majorité des questions, à l’exception des questions économiques et les négotiations commerciales. Aux Nations Unis, ils tendent à bloquer les propositions plutôt que d’amener de nouvelle idées. Néanmoins, les BRICS devront de plus en plus jouer un role clé dans la transformation des institutions internationales. Le nouveau G20 est un point tournant dans ce processus et la re-configuration de la gouvernance mondiale.
-Chantal Blouin, Chercheure Associée, Conseil international du Canada