Ron Wonnacott, FRSC, OC

William G. Davis Professor Emeritus
Ph.D. Harvard University, 1959

Research Interests

Canada-US Free Trade; Customs Union Theory


Summary Notes on Research and Publications

  • Canada-U.S. Free Trade. This research began with an internationally specified input-output analysis of production and prices in the Canada-U.S. economy (North Holland; see CV). The most noted contribution however was a 1967 Harvard University Press book (co-authored with Paul Wonnacott) on Canada-U.S. free trade, which has been described as triggering a debate in Canada that culminated in the 1989 FTA with the U.S.
  • Theoretical Issues. This same Harvard book also contributed theoretically by analyzing and estimating three factors which, up to that date, had been inadequately addressed in the trade literature: (i) economies of scale and imperfect competition; (ii) transport costs and other geographical influences (estimated with a gravity model); and (iii) the benefits of removing partners' trade barriers, as well as your own. In the last three decades, the first two of these factors—and to a far less degree the third--have been incorporated into trade theory by a number of other authors.
  • Customs Union Theory (with Paul Wonnacott). This analysis, initiated in 1981, (see especially items with an * in CV) included a proof of the invalidity of the then widely accepted theorem that unilateral tariff reduction is weakly superior to any CU.
  • Hubs and Spokes. Since 1975, developed the theory of hub-and-spoke trading systems. (See ** in CV.) Before NAFTA, urged Canadian participation to avoid becoming one of the spokes to a U.S. hub. More recently, analyzed the development of hub-and-spoke systems in Latin America (with Paul Wonnacott) and Europe (with Alice Enders).
  • Additional Research and Publication has been on a wide variety of trade policy issues, including the 1965 Canada-U.S. Auto Pact, with its modifications in the Canada-U.S. FTA and NAFTA; effects on Europe of Canada-U.S. free trade; adjustment policies for a free trade agreement; policy towards foreign investment; an overall evaluation of NAFTA (e.g., with Richard Lipsey and Daniel Schwanen); industrial strategy as a substitute for trade liberalization; reforming trade remedies (contingent protection), and in particular, replacing anti-dumping laws with antitrust (competition) laws of the trading partners; and trade liberalization in the GATT and the WTO.


  • Statistics and Econometrics (with Tom Wonnacott). Wiley publications include 3 texts on introductory statistics (one in fifth edition), one on econometrics, and one on regression. Some have been distributed worldwide in Wiley International Editions (paperback) and some have been translated into 7 different languages.
  • Economics (with Paul Wonnacott). A McGraw-Hill (later Wiley) introductory text in 4 editions; translated into 4 languages, and in addition adapted in special volumes for the Canadian market (with Åke Blomqvist and Joel Fried) and the Brazilian market (with Crusins and Crusins).