In Beyond Trade, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley asks us to throw out our old perceptions of what constitutes trade.

Trade deficit is a four-letter word for some, but Crowley points out that trade deficit statistics tell us nothing meaningful and in fact are used to justify all sorts of mistaken and wrong-headed conclusions.

He examines trade between the United States and Canada, and explains that increasingly Canadians do not make finished products and sell them to Americans, but rather the two countries make things together and then sell them around the world.

Crowley suggests that the whole metaphor of international trade is now too narrow to encompass what is being built around us. He says we have built it without planning it, and indeed, it could not have been planned in all its tremendous complexity and flexibility.

“This new North American reality is under construction all around us by dint of the actions we all take every day. But because it was not planned, and could not have been planned, and because laws and regulations cannot, by their nature, evolve as fast as business, economic and social relationships, what has not caught up yet is the legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks that are still based on the old self-contained national economy model.”

Crowley says a broad and open vision is now needed to make changes that reflect the reality of today. He says:

“The situation in which national leaders keep quiet about North American developments while businesses, bureaucrats and community groups slink away to repair problems in the North American system is no longer working.

It is failing us because, despite efforts to overcome the “narcissism of small differences,” the step by step approach lacks the coherence and broad vision needed now. Decisions are required on key issues of security, borders, transportation, energy and immigration. At this point, the incremental approach is simply not enough.”

To read the complete Commentary, click here.