Trade deficit figures show cost of no industrial strategy

In response to a record trade deficit in manufactured end products a Globe and Mail business columnist wrote, “it indicates a failure on the part of federal policymakers to prevent a relative deterioration of the Canadian manufacturing industry.”

That was in 1980, but as the trade figures released by Statistics Canada this week show, it could just as easily have been written today. While the record monthly trade deficit of $2.34 billion got the attention, the trade deficit in manufactured goods was almost four times that.

Without the $8.87 billion trade deficit in machinery, automotive products and other consumer goods, Canada would have a trade surplus.

22 years ago the trade deficit in manufactured goods was blamed on the lack of an industrial strategy. The only thing that has changed since 1980 is that other exports are no longer enough to overcome the deficit in manufactured goods.