The vitality of the region’s economy depends largely on the flow of Canadian oil and gas products through Cascadia to destination points in Asia. Canada possesses the fossil fuels, while nearly 35,000 miles of Cascadian pipelines provide the corridor that moves hydrocarbons to world market outlets. Throughout its recent history, Cascadia used its vast trove of natural resources as a bargaining chip to persuade Canadian and American customers into adopting economic and political policies favorable to their interests. The United States, however, thanks mainly to its robust economic infrastructure, is better able than Canada to resist economic pressure from Cascadia. Another factor that increases the United States’ economic leverage in negotiating with Cascadia is the recent increased availability of US-generated oil and liquefied natural gas, produced through recent advances in fracking and extraction technologies.
Cascadia’s leaders regard revenues derived from exploiting natural resources as an immoral act that violates the sanctity of the Bioregionalism philosophy that forms the foundation of their national character. For that reason, they view Cascadian reliance on hydrocarbons revenues from Canada and the United States as a provocation that threatens their national identity. This perception exacerbates an already tense relationship between the countries. The same ideological impulse that led Cascadia to secede nineteen years ago also inspired the Cascadian government to take the predictable step of adopting a closed-market economy grounded in the tenets of democratic socialism.
Important as the energy sector is to Cascadia’s economic well-being, much of the country’s economic efforts are focused on self-reliance and its government frequently experiments with pursuing a conscious policy of subsidizing key industries. The country’s once abundant agricultural exports have steadily dwindled and Cascadia’s reputation as the breadbasket of the Pacific Northwest is in doubt.
Cascadia exports some minerals and industrial products. Agriculture and manufacturing respectively account for 25% and 13% of Cascadia’s gross domestic product, both are relatively small compared with the services sector (62%), which employs 70% of the country’s workforce. Unfortunately, all three sectors taken together have proved insufficient to provide full employment and a satisfactory standard of living to Cascadia’s citizens.
The Cascadian economy suffers from over-centralization, and is inflicted by a cumbersome national bureaucracy. The country recently implemented aggressive measures aimed at eventually enabling long-term sustainable growth. These include; structural reforms to improve the currency exchange rate, laws that eliminate private land ownership, increased regulation of business interests, and a comprehensive program to repress corruption and illegal economic activity. Despite all of this, high inflation, a sluggish global economy, and continuing strained relations with The United States are still taking their toll. Overall, Cascadia’s current economic trajectory justifies cautious optimism for a prosperous future, provided that its government sustains current initiatives to create a stable, transparent, and welcoming business climate that also embraces increased trade with Canada and the US.