Canada Signs International Trade Deals, But Still Hasn’t Achieved Single Internal Market
Canada can improve its domestic economy and increase its global competitiveness by eliminating interprovincial trade barriers. So finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think tank.
The study, titled “Toward Free Trade in Canada: Five Things the Federal Government Can Do To Open our Internal Market,” outlines several opportunities for freer trade among Canadian provinces in light of the conclusion of negotiations for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union.
“While there has been some progress in building a common national market over the past two decades, at least regionally, more work needs to be done,” said Laura Dawson, the study author. “For example, residents of Ontario still aren’t able to order wine from British Columbia, a teacher from Alberta can’t work in Newfoundland and Labrador without added certification, and there’s no interprovincial trade in dairy products.”
In 1995, the federal and provincial governments signed the Agreement on Internal Trade, an agreement to reduce and eliminate barriers to free movement of goods, services and labor within Canada. The provinces and the federal government have committed to renew the ATI by March, 2016.
In the meantime, ahead of that renewal, the study recommends several steps that the federal government can take to improve internal trade in Canada. They include implementing policies that facilitate greater labor mobility, creating a single national system for corporate registration and reporting, promoting market access and regulatory coherence in provincial energy and environmental policies, and encouraging trade in dairy products between provinces.
“Without action to remove internal trade barriers, Canadians will again find themselves in the position of granting better market access to non-Canadians than to themselves,” Dawson said. “How can Canadian firms effectively compete in the 320 million-person U.S. market or the 1.2 billion Chinese market if they cannot first grow to scale in a national market of 35 million people? The time has come to recommit ourselves to building a single Canadian market and with it, the conditions of global competitiveness.”