Ottawa Agreements

The Ottawa Agreements were 12 bilateral trade agreements providing for mutual tariff concessions and certain other commitments, negotiated 20 July-20 August 1932 at Ottawa by Britain, Canada and other Commonwealth Dominions and territories. They may be seen as the culmination of a trend towards Imperial Preference, which began with Canada's unilateral grant of such preferences in 1897. Among the Canadian industries that may have benefited from the agreements were wheat growing, lumbering and milling, apple growing, automobile manufacturing and the nonferrous metals industry. Canada's negotiators, anxious to gain a lot and to give a little, nevertheless promised to admit British manufactures on terms that would give them a fair chance in the Canadian market. Canada also lowered some tariffs on British goods while raising them on some non-British goods, widening the margin between ordinary and preferential rates and thereby annoying the US.

Similar arrangements were made by Britain with South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Britain promised to impose no duties on empire foodstuffs, to raise duties and to impose quotas on many non-empire foodstuffs, and to continue duty-free or low-tariff arrangements for empire manufactures, such as Canadian automobiles. Thus there were new duties on "foreign" dairy products, quotas for certain meats, and many other realignments of British and Dominion duties. The agreements succeeded in giving the Dominions a larger share of the British market, but they did not arrest the decline in Britain's share of the imperial market. The Anglo-Canadian Agreement was modified in 1937, again in 1938 and many times since 1945. Some mutual concessions still exist, and most of them can be traced to the Ottawa Agreements.