Mark Agnew

Trade and Economic Advisor

Part of UK in Canada

27th May 2014 Ottawa, Canada

Celebrating world trade

Rather embarrassingly for someone in my line of work, I was completely unaware it was World Trade Month until my colleague Thomas Whitehead in Washington blogged about the subject.

Usually I try to blog about a specific subject matter, but staring at the blank canvass of World Trade Month there is so much one could say about how trade impacts our everyday lives.

Life as we know it is so conditioned by trade, and it is unfathomable to think of world in which products were not shipped across borders (I doubt the pineapple I bought last night could be produced in Ottawa climate conditions).

The tendency is naturally to always focus on the tangible products (“merchandise trade” as we would say in the business), but you can’t forgot services and investment too!

Export light paths from UK
Top UK goods exports to Canada: crude oil and oil products, aircraft engines and parts, pharmaceuticals, gold, cars, silver, spirits.

For the UK-Canada relationship, the immense importance of trade is no different both in the big economic picture as well as the products and services all around us.

I’m a numbers guy, so let’s explore that first. It may surprise you to know that the UK is Canada’s third largest export market and fifth largest merchandise trade partner at a whopping $22.4 billion in 2013. The UK is also a major investor in Canada with almost $57 billion dollars of investment. If that wasn’t impressive enough, how about the $86 billion of Canadian investment in the UK?

On a more personal level, perhaps you unearthed some leftover Cadbury Easter chocolate in your pantry, or maybe later today you hope to enjoy your favourite type of Twinings Tea at your desk. If you’re an auto enthusiast, perhaps you dream of driving an iconic British Jaguar or Land Rover.

But trade and investment is much more personal than just the products we enjoy day to day. It’s also about creating jobs and new opportunities.

British companies like HSBC, Astrazeneca, BP, and GlaxoSmithKline employ thousands of people in Canada. Take GlaxoSmithKline for example, they alone invested more than $112 million in just research and development in 2012 and have a workforce in Canada of 2,200 people.

I could write several blog posts about just the positive impacts of the Canada-UK commercial relationship, but I should stop here and let you get back to celebrating international trade month with your favourite imported beverage (naturally, I’d recommend a British brew)

About Mark Agnew

Mark has served as the Trade and Economic Advisor at the British High Commission since 2011.

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