Free Trade to Forced Trade: Canada in the Global Economy

Both of the globally controversial issue of free trade and the phenomenon of deindustrialization have affected Canada and its citizens enormously in a social, political, economical, and environmental way. The book, From Free Trade to Forced Trade: Canada in the Global Economy, written by Peter Urmetzer exclusively discusses the idea of free trade. The author claims that free trade is a neutral activity that neither has huge advantages nor disadvantages as well as analyzing its effects on both first and third world countries.

However, Industrial Sunset: The Making of North America's Rust Belt, 1969-1984 by Steven High thoroughly discusses how plants shutdowns have affected the economies in North America and argues that Canadian workers as a national community lessened the effects of closing plants more successfully than American workers in the regions of deindustrialization. High emphasizes the differences of responses from workers, unions, and communities in Canada and the United States to plant shutdowns due to the benefits of the multinational corporations.

Even though these two books talk about two totally different issues, there are some similarities in the content of the books and the approaches the authors decided to use to back up their arguments differed greatly in terms of research methods and its presentation such as illustrations and statistics, structures of the book, and comparisons made in each books and High, providing more detailed evidences and explanations, proved more successful in supporting his arguments.

Urmetzer begins his arguments by saying that free trade does not have a major effect on economies and it is rather a big idea of our time, designed for solving all social and economic problems. However, he states that there is not sufficient evidence to prove whether free trade has significant impact on industrial and economic growth or not. He shows that the only benefit of free trade is increased number of trades. Furthermore, free trade might even have contributed to the third world economy with increased poverty and unemployment. 

Lacking evidences, the author chooses to use historical figures to prove his claim. Urmetzer argues that theories of the prominent economists, Adam Smith and David Ricardo, which support free trade, are not applicable anymore at present time because economic world has changed since then, but the theories of John Maynard Keynes are still relevant in contemporary economies, defining free trade as only an ideology rather than a policy enforced among nations. 

Introducing necessary organizations in order to implement free trade, the author talks about WTO and its failure in imposing free trade. Since nations have unequal power distribution amongst themselves, it is only possible to enforce free trade theoretically. Because strong countries like the United States have more influence on WTO than other countries when negotiating trade agreements, they eventually benefit much more from trades with third world countries by making the trade contracts in their favour.

Even with WTO trying to help third world countries by financing them, inflation and interests that increased tremendously put third world countries still in debt. This hinders third world countries to gain independence in free trade but in contrast, experience forced trade, proving the argument of Urmetzer that free trade is not as neutral as it seems. 

On the other hand, Industrial Sunset, by Steven High, discusses how industrial plant closings affected North America and its citizens in an economical, social, and political way between the years of 1969 and 1984. High begins the book by presenting and defining unclear jargons used regularly throughout his work such as Rust Belt, symbolizing the industrial decline in the U.S., and Golden Horseshoe, referring to the wealth of Southern Ontario. 

High then, examines the impacts plant closures had on workers in industrial heartlands of both sides of the border. With the usage of numerous personal interviews, the author reveals the feelings of enormous number of employees who lost jobs and other consequences of the closed plants. Quoting direct words from the interviewees, he emphasizes the fact that displaced workers felt really frightful and that the plants which closed down not only meant losing a working place, but also meant loss of an internal part to the employees.

The author continues by noting the newly aroused environmental issues that had affected the industries to eventually relocate or shut down. He stresses out that the executives of multi-national corporations needed to make profits in the world of global competition and as a result, they had decided to employ a strategy of shifting the industrial plants to a place where there are cheaper labour with nice surroundings or closing down the unprofitable plants. By doing so, they gained a reputation of protecting the environment but at the same time, resulting in immense number of unemployment.