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On June 15, 2012, the Committee on Internal Trade announced the approval of amendments to the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) to ensure a more effective person-to-government dispute resolution process.
Canada’s patchwork system of internal trade regulations block the free flow of workers, goods and services across the country, hindering growth, innovation and our ability to compete in the global market.
The implementation of Canada’s 1995 Agreement on Internal Trade has been too slow to help the many businesses burdened by internal barriers to trade. Governments must do much more to strengthen the agreement, remove the remaining barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility, and improve the enforcement provisions of the agreement.
Prior to the announcement on June 15, 2012, the person-to-government dispute resolution mechanism in the AIT lacked significant penalties for non-compliance. Businesses deserve the ability to make their own case and to ensure that their rights are protected. To rectify this discrepancy, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce called for amendments to the person-to-government dispute resolution section of the AIT. These amendments needed to include an appeals process, monetary fines and the suspension of dispute-resolution privileges for non-compliance.
With about half of all trade between Canada and the United States moving across the Ontario-Michigan border—more than one-quarter of Canada-U.S. trade travelling across the Ambassador Bridge, alone—the region is at the heart of our bilateral trading relationship.
The Ambassador Bridge, which is 85 years old, is the busiest international border crossing in North America in terms of trade volume. About 10,000 commercial vehicles cross the Ambassador Bridge each day. Almost a quarter of all merchandise trade between Canada and the U.S. uses the bridge which links highly integrated sectors like the automotive industry. However, these same supply lines are extremely vulnerable to delays, especially at the border. These delays add costs that decrease productivity and kill jobs.
The region can’t continue to rely on one major span. If the Ambassador Bridge were closed for any reason, even just for repairs, it could have catastrophic effects on the economies of both nations. As a result, the Canadian business community has been demanding a second bridge between Windsor and Detroit for several years.
The 2012 federal budget presents a plan for long-term economic growth that builds on Canada’s economic fiscal advantages. The five themes laid by the government—innovation, investment, education, skills and communities—include a number of measures from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s 10-point national plan to regain Canada’s competitive edge in the global economy.
The Canadian Chamber urged the government to focus on where Canada needs to be five or 10 years from now, even if it means taking tough decisions now. The government has acted on many of the key elements of the Canadian Chamber’s Top 10 program for restoring Canada’s competitiveness.
Addressing Canada’s skills crisis
Returning Canadians to work
Improving the tax system
Making regulations work
Attracting international investment
Stimulating research and development and bringing it to market
Using technology to make Canada competitive
Providing the financing businesses need to grow
Building 21st century infrastructure
New York State has recently backed away from its plan to unilaterally impose stringent ballast water standards for ships transiting New York waters. These rules would have required ships to treat their ballast water to a degree 100 times greater than current International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards. Furthermore, any vessels built after January 1, 2012 would have needed the ability to treat their ballast water to a level 1,000 times greater than IMO standards.
On Feb. 4, 2011 President Obama and Prime Minister Harper made a joint declaration to improve border efficiency and regulatory cooperation. The announcement made on Dec. 7, 2011 is the first step in realizing this goal. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been a vocal advocate of greater regulatory cooperation and border efficiency with the United States. This partnership will strengthen the economic and physical security of both countries and facilitate the flow of legitimate people and goods across the border.