Late last week, Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial governments announced concluded negotiations of a new Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA). The CFTA replaces the existing Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), which has been in place since 1995.
The CFTA will take effect July 1, 2017, and is designed to “reduce barriers to trade, investment, and worker mobility” between provinces and territories. The deal includes rules that open trade in goods and services, processes that reduce differences in regulations and standards, and provisions that increase access to billions of dollars in government procurement opportunities for Canadian businesses. The agreement also establishes new processes to liberalize domestic trade, a key hold-back for many agriculturally-based businesses.
“The new Canadian Free Trade Agreement represents an important step forward for Canada’s economic union. By supporting a modern, open, and competitive Canadian economy, the agreement will help create new opportunities across the country,” says Brad Duguid, chair of the Internal Trade Renewal Negotiations and also minister of Economic Development and Growth, Government of Ontario.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) says its particularly interested in learning about how the Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table will work. The group will be established to coordinate processes for resolving trade barriers when they are identified by provinces and territories, with input from stakeholders. CFA also noted several areas in which farmers face difficulties in interprovincial trade. Some examples include trucking transportation regulations and differing requirements between federally- and provincially-regulated meat processing plants.
“There’s clear a commitment shown in the CFTA to harmonize regulations and standards wherever possible, and to take a transparent approach in implementing changes,” says Ron Bonnett, CFA president in a statement. “CFA is pleased that the agreement is structured to facilitate the flow of goods using an over-arching non-discrimination principle. This will ensure that technical aspects don’t create unnecessary barriers to trade within our own borders.”
According to the Bank of Canada, the economic boost of removing interprovincial trade barriers is roughly comparable to the projected economic benefit from the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).