The International Politics of Agricultural Trade: Canadian-American Relations in a Global Agricultural Context

By Theodore H. Cohn | Go to book overview
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5
American Surplus Disposal Measures

Canada has often been critical of U.S. surplus disposal policies, and a 1959 Canadian-American Committee report warned that "pervasive and vigorous conflicts of interest [over surplus disposal] are potentially dangerous to many aspects of Canadian-American relations. 1 This chapter focuses on the two types of surplus disposal transactions that Canada criticized most vehemently, American tied sales and agricultural barter. Indeed, Canadian officials maintained that barter and tied sales "represented unorthodox and unfair competition, bringing inevitable encroachment on Canada's ordinary commercial markets."2 An environmental variable that is of particular interest in this chapter is "relative economic size." American surplus disposal activities were most important in the period before the United States experienced serious balance of payments problems (that is, from the 1950s to the early 1970s). As a result, the United States was willing--and able--to engage in large-scale concessional sales to maintain its market share. Since Canada was more dependent than the United States on exporting wheat at satisfactory prices, it did not have the economic means to consider seriously the adoption of similar measures. Thus, the minister of trade and commerce indicated that he was "surprised--perhaps shocked is a better word--at the suggestions that . . . Canada should follow the very same policies of surplus disposal that we criticize when followed by our competitors."3

Since Canada could not emulate American surplus disposal practices, its main efforts were devoted to altering U.S. behaviour. Canadian criticisms were frequently voiced in multilateral fora such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade since other exporting states were similarly disturbed by the dumping of American surpluses. For example, Canada's delegate to the twelfth session of

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