Canada’s trade ministers are currently meeting in Toronto to work on a national agreement on the movement of goods and services across the country. So, small businesses are pushing for a deal that will make internal, domestic free trade a priority.
According to a new CFIB report, 87% of these business owners say Canada’s premiers need to focus on breaking down trade barriers between provinces—especially since provincial leaders have said they’re committed to establishing a new deal that helps remove these barriers by spring 2016.
Plus, Canada is already set to open its arms to new international trade. “[Since] Canada and the European Union [are] about to ratify a new comprehensive free trade agreement,” says Laura Jones, executive vice-president at CFIB. “there may be instances where European companies have better access to Canadian opportunities than [domestic] business in neighbouring province[s].”
Only 9% of small business owners think the existing deal being worked on (referred to as the Agreement on Internal Trade, or AIT) will help them trade more easily between provinces. And, almost one-third (28%) weren’t even aware the AIT existed.
CFIB’s new report recommends an approach to internal free trade that focuses on mutual recognition of provincial rules, as well as a faster and more direct approach to solving trade disputes.