The nature of trade and investment has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. As a result, conventional statistics fail to capture the true value of economic exchanges that occur between territories. This concept is highlighted in an article by Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Ogranization, who outlines that international trade is currently measured in what is known as gross value, where the total commercial value of an import is assigned to a single country of origin, as the good reaches customs. He argues that the concept of country of origin is obsolete, citing the example of what we call ‘made in China’ is indeed assembled in China, but its commercial value comes from those numerous countries that precede its assembly. He concludes that it no longer makes sense to think of trade in terms of “them” and “us.”

The Conference Board of Canada develops this point in their seminal paper Canada’s ‘missing trade’ with the European Union. The study outlines that Trade and related policies that rely strictly on conventional trade measures and language may be out of sync with current global business realities. The Conference Board adopts an ’integrative trade’ method in their  study that attempts to better reflect the roles of services trade; global and regional value chains; investment and sales by foreign affiliates; flows of people, knowledge, and technologies; electronic trade in goods and services; and, the linkages between goods and services. Using this approach, the report estimates that total sales of goods and services between Canada and the EU in are $590 billion, as opposed to $110 billion measured by conventional statistics.