Functioning in a world that is continuously re-bordering

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

Global changes are inevitable and are continuously evolving. But how does that impact Canada?

RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney caught up with Janice Stein, founding director of the Munk School of Global Affairs (University of Toronto), at the Grow Canada conference, to talk about re-bordering the world, and what that means.

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Defining “re-bordering”

Stein defines re-bordering the world as the “new protectionism and tariffs that we’re seeing everywhere,” adding there are two different types of borders: protectionism and digital boundaries.

“Protectionism is growing and that, of course, is a kind of border. The second border is digital borders, as we all transition to a 5G system, part of which was rebuilt by Huawei in big chunks of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, part of which will be rebuilt by western companies like Nokia and Ericsson; and what we think about as the global internet is no longer global already. There are big chunks of it that already are all walled off,” she says.

Huawei in Canada

While some people see Huawei in Canada as a point of contention, Stein has no issue with the company selling smartphones in the Canadian market. But she does see some concern in other areas of their strategy.

“People should be free to buy whatever they wish. Huawei is talking about establishing a big research centre in Canada. I think the one area of concern is the building of the 5G network,” Stein says. “Why is that an issue of concern? Everything is going to run on that network. And even the best companies, when they are writing billions of lines of code, will make a mistake in one or two and will leave what we call an open back door, where people can listen. I think the risks with Huawei are not the same as they are with Nokia and Ericsson.”

On trade

On trade, Stein has some suggestions for Canada to function within borders, which Haney says are not very rules-based.

“The global regulator for trade, the WTO (World Trade Organization), is in deep trouble, so I think there are two sets of answers [to this problem],” she says. “Firstly, trade is going to regionalize much more. And we’ve got a great start here in the USMCA, but we’re also a member of the CETA and the CPTPP. We need to take full advantage of those agreements. There are technical barriers, and we need to work hard to get those removed.

“Secondly, we need to make an extra concentrated effort on countries with a young population. They are going to be big food consumers and agro-product consumers like India, Pakistan, and Egypt.

“And thirdly, we have to do something about our interprovincial trade barriers. “

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