Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[BRIEF NOTE] Canada's falling weight in the world

Reuters' Adrian Croft writes about the latest sign of Canada's weakening.

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain should push to be a member of the Group of Eight (G8) club of leading economies now that its output has surpassed that of G8 member Canada, an influential Spanish thinktank said on Monday.

The Financial Studies Foundation presented a study setting out Spain's credentials to be part of the G8 at a meeting of its board, which includes some of Spain's top business executives.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the foundation's honorary chairman, also attended.

"The Financial Studies Foundation will support Spain's presence in the Group of Eight most industrialized countries...," the group said in a statement.

The World Bank's 2004 ranking of countries by Gross Domestic Product, released in July, showed Spain had overtaken Canada to become the world's eighth-biggest economy.

Spain's economy, in its 12th year of uninterrupted growth, produced just under $1 trillion of output in 2004, according to the World Bank figures. China's sharp upwards revision of its output last week still left Spain in the eighth slot.

The G8 includes the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia.

Croft goes on to observe that the only obstacle standing before Spanish membership is Spain's affiliation with the euro zone and the wider European economy in an era when new populous economic powers and organizations are emerging outside of the North America-Europe-Japan triad that dominated the world in the 20th century. Spain's economic growth, sustained as it has been, might well falter. Consider Italy, which celebrated il sorpasso in the late 1980s only to fall behind Britain again when British economic success under Blair coincided with Italy's growing failures in the face of Asian economic competitors and Berlusconi's remarkable mismanagement. Even so, since Spain joined the European Union the trend has been for Spain to catch up to Canadian GDP per capita.

After the Second World War, apart from the United States and the smaller British dominions in Australasia, the Dominion of Canada was the only intact and prosperous country belonging to what would one day be called the First World. Canada can no longer claim this enjoyable privilege. Other countries with comparable or greater human resources have naturally surpassed us; more countries will. I'm not sure how well Canadians, still steeped in various post-Pearsonian or pseudo-Churchillian mindsets, will adapt to Canada's weakening presence in the world. The Québécois are lucky since they can, with relatively few problems, adapt to living in a small prosperous nation-state without wider pretensions. But English Canadians?

UPDATE (6:18 PM) : pauldrye quite rightly points out that I excluded Sweden and Switzerland from the category "First World." This is true, but then again both countries seem to be going through similar crises, now that the Swiss economy has languished for a decade and Sweden's model no longer seems as exportable as it once was.
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