July 14, 2018

Import Replacement And Community Resilience

Farmer's Markets are a good way to support local farmers and producers.

There is a lot of talk about imports these days, mostly because we could be seeing the beginning of the end of global trade as we have known it in recent years. Now is a good time to look at alternatives to trade in order to ensure that the things we need continue to be available in the event international trade slows or stops.

Many communities, including those in Nova Scotia, are considering the advantages of using Import Replacement as a way to strengthen communities and bolster resilience at the same time.

Import replacement, or import substitution, means sourcing as much as you can from local producers in order to reduce dependence on imports. It is a strategy that can be implemented at any time, and it is looking like the sooner the better. 

Doing so after our current trade-heavy system collapses would be too late to avoid much pain and suffering.

Advantages of Import Replacement

  • Money stays in the community
  • Increased local employment
  • Builds community resilience
  • Local food is healthier food
  • Less reliant on complex, energy intensive supply chains 
  • Greater autonomy and self-reliance for communities
  • In the event of the collapse of global trade, communities well versed in import replacement will do better than those still reliant on a disappearing supply chain


  • Increases the cost of products/services
  • Requires new ways of thinking and doing things that threaten established global interests
  • Funding is currently difficult for non-traditional economic approaches 

While it may be currently difficult for a community to impose restraints on economic policies and conditions created by a global market, national governments, transnational corporations and international financial agencies, it has already been done with success in many regions.

In my area of Nova Scotia, it has been suggested that IR may be the answer to reversing the trend of shrinking rural populations, and building strong local economies which serve the people that live there. 

A bonus would be that the area would be better ready to handle what is certain to be turmoil and chaos in global trade now and in the future.

“The benefits of self-sufficiency [or import replacement] will be seen in places where it still exists. So long as the whole supply chain is local, localized production means being able to maintain access to essential goods at a time when obtaining them from overseas may be difficult or impossible. 
It is currently more expensive, but the relative security it can provide can be priceless in a dangerous world. The ability to produce locally does not arise overnight however, especially where there are no stockpiles of components. 
In places where it has been lost, it will take time to regain. There is no time to lose.”

- from The Automatic Earth

Supporting local growers and suppliers of the things we need right now will ensure that they will always be there for us, especially when they are most needed.

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