Internal trade deal expected to boost economy

TORONTO — A new internal-trade deal that will remove domestic trade barriers is expected to add billions of dollars to the economy, but an agreement on booze will have to wait.

The Canada Free Trade Agreement, unveiled Friday in Toronto, takes a “negative list” approach, meaning it automatically covers all sectors except when exemptions are listed. Exempt sectors include taxation, water and tobacco control. The deal replaces the Agreement on Internal Trade from 1995, which essentially took the opposite approach.

Officials have struggled to pin a number on the potential economic benefits of the agreement, but Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid, who was also chair of the negotiations, said the deal is expected to add $25 billion a year to the economy.

“Why did we need a new agreement, some may ask,” Duguid said. “First off, the economy and the world has changed. Canada needs to be at its best to compete in a fiercely competitive economy … (It) reduces the costs of doing business in Canada and makes us economically strong and creates jobs across this country from coast to coast to coast.”

What’s not in the deal is an agreement to streamline standards for alcohol across Canada. Instead a working group will report back by July 1, 2018.

The deal does, however, lay the groundwork for talks to eventually establish a process to help provinces and territories regulate the trade of recreational pot.

“We’ve seen 100 to 150 years of acrimony and debate about the availability of alcohol across the country,” said Duguid. “We do have an opportunity, I believe, to get (marijuana regulation) right from the start.”

The deal, which takes effect July 1, establishes a process to reconcile regulations in different provinces that make trade or labour mobility difficult.

For example, Duguid said, different jurisdictions have varying requirements for the percentage of ethanol and gasoline in a fuel blend, meaning producers have to create many different versions.

As well, there are different standards across the country for dairy creamer cups, which Duguid said “drives our dairy producers and our food processors absolutely crazy.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business applauded the deal as a “major step.”

“There is more to do to eliminate some silly, irritating rules but the deal creates an innovative framework that we haven’t had before to get outstanding red tape issues resolved,” said executive vice-president Laura Jones.

Federal Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said as protectionism is on the rise in the world, the deal demonstrates that Canada is open.

“We’re an open society and we recognize that this is a source of strength for us,” he said.

“(Companies) have the ability now to do business across the country with less barriers, with less impediments, with regulations being aligned now.”

The deal will put Canadian businesses on equal footing with foreign companies when competing for government procurement contracts across the country, officials said.

With the upcoming Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the EU, foreign companies could have had better access to provincial markets than Canadian companies, Duguid said.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance gave a “cautionary thumbs up” to the deal. Different trucking regulations across Canada make it difficult for drivers going between provinces.

“While we are encouraged, time will tell whether the new processes established to identify, prioritize and negotiate standardized rules will be more effective than previous attempts to increase the level of harmonization of trucking regulations,” said CEO David Bradley.

The CFTA enables suppliers to most publicly owned energy utilities to bid for government contracts in various parts of the country, which officials estimate will provide $4.7 billion a year of new business opportunities.

The old deal included a maximum $5-million fine for governments who violate it, and that is now increased to $10 million.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

WATCH: Ponoka residents enjoy first skate on ice path

A community initiative helped create a skate path for families in Ponoka.

Former Red Deer teacher going to trial on child porn charges

Charges were laid in January 2017 after a woman came forward

Canada, U.S. lead call for enforcement of sanctions against North Korea

VANCOUVER — Canada and the U.S. led calls Tuesday for the global… Continue reading

Donald Trump aces mental aptitude test designed by an immigrant to Canada

WASHINGTON — When the White House released the results of a test… Continue reading

Food industry fails to meet most voluntary sodium reduction targets: Health Canada

TORONTO — Voluntary sodium targets for the food industry have failed to… Continue reading

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

This robotic maid takes us one step closer to ‘The Jetsons’

Imagine this: You’re rushing to get ready for work — juggling emails,… Continue reading

Milan line offers canine couture for pampered pooches

Milan has long been the world’s ready-to-wear fashion leader. Now, dogs are… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month