Ottawa, July 22, 2016—The Canadian Chamber of Commerce reacts with cautious optimism to the announcement that Canada’s Premiers have reached an agreement in principle on internal trade. It is expected that the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, once implemented, will allow for freer trade within Canada and contribute to eliminating regulatory barriers between provinces and territories. This has been a long-standing demand of the Canadian Chamber, outlined most recently in the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness for 2016.
“The agreement in principle that was announced today is a step in the right direction, but we hope to see more concrete measures soon. This is a priority issue for business, and the sooner we can eliminate interprovincial barriers to trade, the sooner our economy will benefit. Premiers have had a lot of time to work on this, and the business community expects to see results,” explained the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “We’re happy to see that the provinces’ will be including many of our recommendations to the agreement, but right now we need to see a defined plan,” he continued.
Today’s announcement indicates some progress in the way the provinces work with each other on interprovincial trade, an area where we need major changes to benefit business, consumers and governments across the country.
“We’re very pleased that the provinces will be moving to a ‘negative list’ approach, which will now list only exclusions to free trade between provinces. All other goods and services will now be automatically included. This approach will contribute to eliminating trade barriers and make decisions on exclusions more transparent,” said Mr. Beatty.
Today’s announcement raises questions on next steps and ratification.
“We’re disappointed to have to wait longer for a concrete agreement, especially since it has taken 149 years to get this far. We welcomed the news that a positive framework had been developed by provincial economic ministers two weeks ago, and had hoped that this week's meeting would close the deal. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is prepared to help complete and implement an agreement as soon as possible. Most of all, however, we will insist on concrete, ambitious measures to finally eliminate these barriers that are costing Canadians billions of dollars,” said Mr. Beatty.
Read joint letter from the Alliance of Business Organizations to the Council of the Federation.