Friday, 15 June 2018

Avoiding American Products



When I wrote my first Stand up for Canada blog in January 2017 (http://standupforcanada.rochow.info/2017/01/fighting-fire-with-fire.html), which called for a potential boycott of US products and services, I expected the worst under the leadership of the then new President of the USA. Unfortunately, the worst seems to be happening now.

The tariffs imposed by the USA on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and other countries, and those threatened in retaliation on selected US products that will be imported to Canada, are most regrettable, since free trade is known to benefit all trading partners.

If these US tariffs should not be withdrawn, the consequential punitive Canadian tariffs on US products may have a surprisingly beneficial effect for Canada by increasing the prices of US products and services to the point where Canadian consumers are motivated to changing their traditional buying habits by switching to suppliers from other countries. Such consumer action may also help Canada to diversify its global trade pattern by diminishing its predominant relationship with the USA (now about 75%) and by expanding its trade with Europe, Asia and other countries. Nevertheless, to ensure that to happen, Canadian consumers must become proactive and deliberately avoid American products, to the extent possible, for as long as the unjustified US tariffs and the broader American protectionist practices persist.

There are signs that Canadian consumers are already taking the necessary steps to avoid US products when suitable alternatives are available. This is evident in two articles by MacLean’s:



In that context, it is also noteworthy that a restaurant in Buckingham (Quebec) has announced that it ceases to offer California wines and ensures that its kitchen avoids the purchase of products originating in the USA, whenever possible (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/lala-bistro-gatineau-ottawa-tariffs-trump-trudeau-insults-1.4704845).

Ever since January 2017, and pending the approval of a fair renewed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), we have subjected our family purchases to country of origin tests, avoiding US products when suitable alternatives exist. For instance, we had to purchase three major appliances costing approximately $4,750. When searching for these, we instructed the sales clerk to show us the best options among those products that had not been manufactured in the US. That resulted in our purchase of two appliances that had been manufactured in South Korea and Mexico, accounting for about 82% of the total purchase price. For the residual smaller appliance (18% of the total cost) we only had a US option.

In the area of groceries, we sent the following message to the grocery chain where we normally shop: “On our last visit … we could only find Smuckers and Hershey brands of chocolate toppings. We left them on the shelf since both were imported from the US. Are similar products available from Canadian or European sources? We have black-listed all non-essential products originating in the US until a fair NAFTA decision has been reached. On a related note we were pleased to find Del Monte canned fruit that originated in South Africa and Greece. We left a tin on the shelf containing another fruit mix by that firm because that also originated in the US.”

While we sincerely hope that the NAFTA trading partners will achieve a sensible new agreement that is fair to all member states, effective consumer boycott of selected US products and services must happen now to send a powerful message to the US negotiators on the NAFTA team. Can we count on you to participate? If so, please shop by country of origin and share your decision with the members in your social network.

If and when a fair NAFTA agreement will have been negotiated, we will promptly remove our black-listing of avoidable US products and services.

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