Regulating a World in Disruption
Toronto Global Forum 2018
The leading issues discussed throughout the Toronto Global Forum involved barriers from regulation. Many of the panels explained that the Canadian marketplace suffers due to the strict regulatory requirements for goods entering Canada. Furthermore, panellists explained that inter-provincial trade in Canada becomes unnecessarily difficult due to a lack of regulatory harmonization. The Supreme Court of Canada improved the financial sphere of inter-provincial trade earlier in 2018 by passing a ruling which would allow for a multi-provincial regulatory body for securities. Martha Harrison, a partner at McCarthy Tétrault, explained during “A New Trade Map for the Americas” panel that increased regulation have been helpful for financial markets but have hindered trade through redundant requirements for those looking to enter the Canadian marketplace. This sentiment was echoed throughout the conference.
During “The New Cannabis Economy” panel, the development of regulations for cannabis was also discussed. Mrs. Harrison explained that Canada is currently in violation of certain international treaty obligations due to the legalization of cannabis. Canadian foreign policy places international treaty compliance at a high priority and therefore Canadians may need to lobby at the World Health Organization for cannabis products to be recognized as legitimate medicinal products. She also explained that Canada is reliant on other jurisdictions following with legalization in order to engage in trade. Canada may become a leader to change the perception of cannabis at an international level.
Concerns Regarding Brexit
On December 12, 2018, Theresa May was subject to a Vote of No Confidence amidst the chaos with Brexit. Throughout the 12th, attendees of the Toronto Global Forum were updated in between panels with information regarding Brexit and the status of the vote. Issues regarding trade with Europe were specifically discussed during the “A New Trade Map for the Americas” panel. The panellists explained that Canada had negotiated the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) to include Britain, meaning that Canada and Britain could maintain their existing trade partnership regardless of the outcome from Brexit. Zornitsa Kutlina-Dimitrova, a Senior Economist of the European Commission, stressed that Canada would need to brace itself for global repercussions from these changes. She continued to explain that Canada should continue to nurture relationships with the European Union (EU).
Throughout the conference, various panels discussed details regarding similar values that are shared between Canada and the European Union. Canada and the EU have shared values for trade and social issues, which has recently become a factor while negotiating trade agreements. Between Canada and the EU, the free-trade partners agree upon the need for a rule-based multilateral trading system and the inclusion of progressive values. Panellists explained that the inclusion of progressive values can be a priority only in trade negotiations where these values are shared and should not become a priority when engaging in negotiations if this is not the case. Canada and the EU prioritize each other as trade partners, and it is fundamental that the two regions continue to maintain relations in light of any future changes.