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Ottawa, August 29, 2014 – Canadian Premiers met in Charlottetown this week to discuss the many challenges facing the Canadian economy. Issues such as greater investment in infrastructure, energy and the environment and labour issues were discussed. The most critical issue on the table was the need to remove internal barriers that divide Canada’s national market into small provincial blocks in some industries.

The agreement currently governing Canada’s internal market – the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) – was concluded in 1994 after NAFTA was signed. Since then, it’s been amended 13 times, but the process of eliminating barriers continues to be terribly slow.

Today, the Premiers promised to correct the situation. If they mean what they say, it’s very good news. For years Canadian businesses have struggled to navigate the complex system of differing rules, regulations and standards. These minor differences increase costs, reduce our efficiency and warn foreign investors away from our country.

“While we fight for success around the world, we also need to ensure that our domestic market is free,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “In the last few years, Canadian businesses have actually had greater commercial rights in some foreign markets than they enjoy in their own country. This is an embarrassment.”

Removing the remaining internal barriers will not only increase economic opportunities amongst the provinces and territories but will place Canada in a better position compared our major international competitors.

The Canadian Chamber has been strongly urging the Council of the Federation to demonstrate leadership in this area by committing to improve our internal trade regime.

The Canadian business community is encouraged by the renewed attention by the Council of the Federation on internal trade. The premiers now have to deliver on the promises that they’ve made.

At the Canadian Chamber we deal with hundreds of business files, but only one overriding issue, the capability of Canadians to compete. The world owes us nothing. We’ve enjoyed decades of prosperity, but the past is no protection in the future. Every self-imposed barrier to success, to low prices, to opportunity, is a threat to our wellbeing.

Making Canada an efficient, unified market is the duty of our leaders. We need these words translated into action.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing some 200, 000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. Follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom.

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Émilie S. Potvin
Office: 613.238.4000 (231)
Cell: 613.797.1860