Four ways the new internal trade deal bodes well for Canadian business

By Emilie Poitevin

Red tape within your own province can be hard enough to deal with, but dealing with numerous regulations and rules from other provinces can seem like a daunting task for even the most seasoned entrepreneur.

For many businesses, expanding into the province next door is a logical step towards eventually expanding into international markets, yet barriers such as costs and red tape scare many businesses away.

The original Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) was signed by all provinces and territories over 20 years ago, meaning that it was outdated and didn’t reflect the realities of today’s business environment. This past August, trade ministers from all provinces and territories met to work out a new, modernized deal that should help small businesses across Canada expand into new markets. This new deal is projected be in place by July 2017, just in time for Canada’s 150th birthday!

Here are four potential changes that are good news for your business:

  1. The “negative list approach”: This basically means that all goods and services are included in the agreement, unless a province specifically asks for an item to be excluded (and they have to justify why it should be removed from the list). This makes it much simpler for businesses to understand what can and can’t be traded.
  2. Beer and alcohol will be included: Small brewers rejoice! While you shouldn’t expect these products to flow freely between borders, it is a step in the right direction. This part of the deal could take a bit longer for the provinces to agree upon, since liberalizing this market remains a contentious issue for many of them.
  3. Working group or tribunal to address regulations: If you’ve already tried to do business in another province, you already know how much red tape is involved. This tribunal will work to reduce what is one of the biggest barriers to internal trade.
  4. Enhanced dispute resolution: If and when a problem arises, businesses want to ensure that it’s solved and won’t happen again. A better dispute resolution system with bigger monetary penalties will go a long way to ensuring that this new trade agreement is followed.

If you have any questions, My StartUp and CFIB members can always call a CFIB Business Counsellor at 1-888-234-2232 for help at no charge.


emilie-poitevinEmilie Poitevin is a Policy Analyst with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Based in Ottawa, she helps to develop and coordinate legislative, research and communications activities for legislative and policy issues affecting CFIB members. Outside the office, you can find her discovering new local businesses in her Hintonburg/Chinatown neighbourhood, sipping on some craft beers, or taking a spin class at her local studio. Follow Emilie on LinkedIn and Twitter @Emilie_Poitevin.

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