Jim Carr: Time to step out from U.S. shadow

Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr discusses Canada's new export diversification strategy laid out in the fall fiscal update.
Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification, tells Chris Hall on CBC Radio's The House that Canada hasn't been as attentive to emerging markets as it should have been. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)
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It's time for Canada to move beyond its close ties with the United States and look for new markets to trade in, says Canada's international trade diversification minister.

Amid tariffs and trade tensions with the world's largest economy, Jim Carr told The House it's time to ramp up efforts with more understated partners, like European Union and Pacific Rim nations.

He admitted Canada has been lax in those efforts in the past.

"We haven't seen the opportunities, we haven't been as attentive as we should have been," he said in an interview from his Parliament Hill office on Friday.

Carr made particular mention of simmering economies in the developing world who weren't major players in the past, but are now expanding.

North American leaders signed the new USMCA agreement to replace the NAFTA trade deal on Friday, but steel and aluminum tariffs on Canadian goods remain. Though Canada secured an effective exemption from any auto duties President Donald Trump may impose, the metal tariffs still hit hard.

General Motors' decision to close its Ontario plant also sent shock waves through the economy. The company is closing several plants in the U.S. as well, but none in Mexico.

Carr called it a "very disappointing decision."

When asked what the next steps were to shore up Canada's auto industry, Carr admitted there are talks in progress to diversify the countries in which Canadian cars are sold.

Despite the uncertainty, the Canadian attitude toward the international ties is scoring points globally, Carr added.

"We are seen as reaching out to the world when other countries are not."

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