Federal Industry Minister James Moore last week unveiled proposal to break down Canada’s interprovincial trade barriers that many business leaders see as harming the national economy and negatively affecting Canadian companies, workers and consumers.
The document One Canada, One National Economy: Modernizing Internal Trade in Canada sets out guiding principles for modernizing the current Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT). The Harper Government contends that eliminating internal trade barriers would create jobs, boost economic growth and strengthen Canada’s internal market by helping to move goods and services more freely across Canada.
The government notes that when the interprovincial AIT came into effect nearly 20 years ago, Canada had concluded only two international trade agreements, but today has free trade agreements in force or being finalized with scores of countries, giving Canadian businesses preferential access to more than a billion consumers worldwide. With this global perspective in mind, the government is seeking to replicate an “all goods and services” approach taken when negotiating international free trade deals such as those with Korea and the European Union.
“Most modern trade agreements cover all goods and services, except for those that are explicitly identified and exempted,” the proposal states. The AIT, it claims, follows an “outdated” approach by singling out specific goods to be covered. The government believes that a "brand new trans-Canada partnership" could be negotiated on the basis of this more inclusive framework.