Manitoba Welcomes New Canadian Free Trade Agreement, Opportunities to Energize the Economy

MANITOBA WELCOMES NEW CANADIAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT, OPPORTUNITIES TO ENERGIZE THE ECONOMY

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Reducing Barriers, Increasing Access to Markets within Canada: Cullen


The province of Manitoba has reached an agreement with governments across Canada on a comprehensive, ambitious new Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) covering trade in goods, services, investment and labour mobility, Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen announced today at Monarch Industries Ltd., a leading manufacturer of hydraulic cylinders and custom iron castings.

“Manitoba businesses have the skills, knowledge and experience, as well as the products and services, to successfully compete anywhere in Canada and around the world,” said Cullen.  “This historic agreement will enhance the free movement of goods, open markets for service suppliers, strengthen investment commitments and improve access to government procurement opportunities across the country.”

The CFTA replaces the existing Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) and covers most areas of the Canadian economy.  Unlike the AIT, which only applies to specified sectors of the economy, the CFTA will apply automatically to all economic activity unless an exception is specifically listed.  In addition, the CFTA will automatically apply to goods and services in new and emerging sectors which significantly removes regulatory uncertainty.

“Today, Canada imports more than $ 47 billion in food from other countries, much of which is meat, grains and vegetables that Canadian farmers also produce right here at home,” said Dan Mazier, president, Keystone Agricultural Producers.  “Interprovincial trade barriers have too often made it easier for processors and retailers to import food from another country, than from another province.  Time and time again Canadians have made it clear they want to be eating Canadian-produced food.  The CFTA offers the possibility of reducing internal barriers and red tape, and allowing consumers more chances to choose Canadian products.”

The minister noted the CFTA will better align internal trade commitments with those in international agreements, such as the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.  It will enable Manitoba businesses to compete on an equal footing with foreign businesses within the domestic market, he said.

“The CFTA delivers on many of the things that small business owners have been seeking for years,” said Jonathan Alward, director of provincial affairs for Manitoba, CFIB.  “Ninety per cent of CFIB members in Manitoba wanted the premiers to commit to reducing trade barriers within Canada.  We are pleased this new deal has the comprehensiveness and transparency needed to continue fighting the red-tape barriers that undermine prosperity for businesses across the country.”

The CFTA enters into force on July 1 and includes the following features:

  • increasing access to billions of dollars in government procurement opportunities;
  • retaining key elements of the AIT, such as labour mobility for regulated occupations;
  • enhancing existing dispute settlement provisions to ensure jurisdictions meet the agreement’s rules; 
  • adding a regulatory reconciliation process to reduce duplicate, overlapping or inconsistent regulations, which will provide new opportunities for further harmonization of regulatory requirements related to the trucking industry;
  • implementing a single electronic portal to find procurement opportunities across the country, making it easier for small and medium-sized Canadian businesses to participate; and
  • committing to bring the financial services sector into the agreement and to further negotiation to enhance trade in in beer, wine and spirits. 

“The MTA welcomes this opportunity to pursue further progress toward the mitigation of regulatory barriers related to trucking across Canada,” said Terry Shaw, executive director, Manitoba Trucking Association.  “While we have seen progress in Western Canada under the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, progress on a national level has been sporadic and we look forward to continued work to reduce red tape for inter-jurisdictional carriers.”
 
“This agreement represents a fundamental shift in the way we conduct trade within Canada,” said Cullen.  “It is a tremendous opportunity for both our province and the entire Canadian economy. Manitoba will continue to pursue opportunities to modernize and expand trade both within Canada and globally.”
 
“Manufacturing is the backbone of the Manitoba economy,” said Ron Koslowsky, vice-president, CME Manitoba.  “By addressing issues like stronger dispute resolution, unprecedented opportunities in government procurements and creating a transparent platform for future liberalization, we are writing a new chapter in interprovincial trade that will allow Canadian manufacturers to compete more effectively at home and abroad.”

Cullen noted the importance of market access as Manitoba’s businesses depend almost equally on interprovincial and international trade.  Interprovincial exports of goods and services were valued at $ 18.8 billion in 2015, representing 52 per cent of all Manitoba exports and almost 30 per cent of the province’s GDP.

“As an exporting province, Manitoba businesses stand to benefit under this new agreement,” said Don Leitch, president and CEO, Business Council of Manitoba.  “By expanding non-discriminatory access to more of the Canadian economy, the CFTA will make it easier and less costly for Manitoba businesses to sell their goods and services across the country.”

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