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Enthusiasm for trade deals misses important but necessary step if Canadians are to benefit

By David Crane      

There’s no point in signing trade deals unless we also develop the businesses that make high-quality and technologically advanced goods and products that these countries want to buy.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, pictured Jan. 29, 2018, in Montreal at a press conference after round six of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. According to Statistics Canada, business spending on R&D fell by more than $1-billion in 2015 from 2014 levels, mainly the result of declines in spending by services sector and the oil and gas industry. Business reported a further 3.1 per cent cut in R&D spending in 2016 and plans only 'minimal change' in 2017, Statistics Canada reports. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

TORONTO—There is this optimistic view that if we sign free trade agreements with other countries, exports and jobs will follow. It’s why there are frequent exhortations for Canada to sign more free trade deals, like the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership, before it the Canada-European Economic and Trade Agreement, and perhaps later with China.

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