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Gold Standard

The gold standard is a monetary system in which the value of the currency unit (the Canadian dollar, for example) is defined in relation to the value of gold.

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Capitalism in Canada

Capitalism is an economic system in which private owners control a country’s trade and business sector for their personal profit. It contrasts with communism, in which property effectively belongs to the state (see also Marxism). Canada has a “mixed” economy, positioned between these extremes. The three levels of government decide how to allocate much of the country’s wealth through taxing and spending.

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Fur Trade in Canada (Plain-Language Summary)

The fur trade began in the 1600s in what is now Canada. It continued for more than 250 years. Europeans traded with Indigenous people for beaver pelts. The demand for felt hats in Europe drove this business. The fur trade was one of the main reasons that Europeans explored and colonized Canada. It built relationships between Europeans and Indigenous peoples.

(This article is a plain-language summary of the fur trade. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry, Fur Trade in Canada.)

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Canadian Free Trade Agreement

The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) is an inter-governmental trade agreement regulating trade within Canada. It took effect on 1 July 2017. The goal of the agreement was to reduce or eliminate regulations against the free movement of goods, services, and investments within Canada. The officials who framed the new deal said they wanted to ensure that Canadian firms got the same access to the Canadian market as firms from the country’s international trading partners. CFTA also more closely matches the terms of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), which began taking effect in 2017.

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Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship, as a form of instruction in which a novice learns from a master of a craft or art, has existed for thousands of years.

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Canadian Wheat Board

The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) was an agricultural marketing board headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Established in 1935, for much of its history it was the sole buyer and seller of Prairie wheat and barley destined for export from Canada or for human consumption in Canada. Referred to as the “single desk,” under this model it was illegal for farmers to sell their grain to anyone other than the CWB. Following a change in government policy, the single-desk model was discontinued in August 2012, and the CWB became a voluntary marketing organization. In July 2015, G3 Global Grain Group purchased a majority stake in the CWB, creating a new firm called G3 Canada Ltd. The company’s headquarters remain in Winnipeg.

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Global Affairs Canada (GAC)

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) was originally founded as the Department of External Affairs in 1909 by Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The operations, mandate and title of the department have evolved over the years. Although legally incorporated as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, its public designation since 2015 has been Global Affairs Canada.  The department is responsible for overseeing Canada’s international engagement, including diplomatic relations, providing consular services, promoting international trade and international law, and leading Canada’s international development and humanitarian assistance.

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Canada and NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was an economic free trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico. Designed to eliminate all trade and investment barriers between the three countries, the free trade agreement came into force on 1 January 1994. In addition to being one of the most ambitious trade agreements in history, NAFTA also created the world’s largest free trade area. It brought together two wealthy, developed countries (Canada and the United States) with a less developed state (Mexico). The agreement built on the earlier Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (CUSFTA), which came into effect on 1 January 1989. After NAFTA was signed, trade and investment relations between the three countries expanded rapidly, but political co-operation remained weak. NAFTA continued to be controversial, particularly in the United States. In 2017, US president Donald Trump threatened to renegotiate or cancel the deal. More than a year of negotiations produced a revised version of NAFTA called the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). CUSMA came into effect on 1 July 2020.

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International Trade

International trade is the buying and selling of goods and services between members of different countries. This exchange has been a key part of the Canadian economy since the first settlers came. Canadian settlers depended on exports of resources such as timber and grain (see Timber Trade History; Wheat). In the 20th century, Canada’s exports shifted to services, manufactured goods and commodities such as oil and metals.

Since the 1980s, Canada has signed free trade agreements with dozens of countries to increase global trade and investment.

Canada’s three biggest trading partners are the United States, the European Union and China. The United States is Canada largest trading partner by far. However, trade with China grew quickly in the 2010s, and this trend will likely continue.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Wholesale Trade

Wholesalers (also called distributors) buy goods for resale to retailers (see RETAIL TRADE), industrial, commercial, governmental, institutional and professional users or to other wholesalers. They also act as agents in connection with such sales.

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Exports from Canada

Exports are goods or services that residents of one country sell to residents of another country. Since its earliest days, Canada’s economic prosperity has relied on exports to larger markets; first through its colonial ties to Britain and later due to its geographic proximity to the United States. Billions of dollars of goods and services cross Canada’s border each year. (See International Trade.) Exports make up about a third of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). In 2019, Canadians exported $729 billion worth of goods and services. Almost 75 per cent of Canada’s total exports go to the United States. (See Canada-US Economic Relations.) Other major markets include the European Union, China and Japan.

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Retail Trade

There are 2 broad categories of retail-trade organization: retail chains, which operate 4 or more stores in the same kind of business under the same ownership, and independent retailers operating 1 to 3 stores.