Halifax, NS, March 13, 2019 – A New Canadian Partnership for domestic free trade could produce economic benefits for Canadians that rival those of international free trade agreements.
That’s the conclusion of Professor Ian Brodie, political scientist at the University of Calgary, in a new public policy study for the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS).
“The barriers to freer trade are political, not constitutional,” states Brodie, who sees interprovincial co-operation as the sole way to improve internal exchange of goods and services.
He explains that while formal barriers on alcohol and some agricultural products do exist and are damaging, the issue is far larger when one considers disparate provincial regulations, from professional licensing requirements and product safety rules to procurement policies. Economists have calculated the cost of these discrepancies at $7,500 per household per year.
Brodie says the New West Partnership provides a model of provincially-led progress. Signed in 2010 and expanded since, the NWP is an agreement among British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to improve labour mobility, recognize out-of-province business registrations, standardize regulations and open up provincial/municipal procurement. Brodie thinks there is a possibility to expand the partnership to include Ontario and New Brunswick in short order.
“The original New West Partnership reduced barriers across three provinces with about 36 percent of the Canadian economy,” writes Brodie. “A New Canadian Partnership could go further, potentially including over 80 percent of Canada’s economy.
“A deeper, broader agreement would powerfully reignite the country’s business agenda and brighten prospects for the entire country. It would give Canadians more control over the country’s shared economic future. And, done right and done quickly, eventually the other provinces and territories would have to join.”
Brodie concludes: “In 2019, it is time to take advantage of the opportunity to press ahead with interprovincial trade liberalization at home.”
This paper was produced in collaboration with the Montreal Economic Institute and the Canadian Constitution Foundation for an initiative called “One Country, One Market.” Its ambition is to advance the goal of greater internal trade for Canada.
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