Historic amount of agreement among ministers on striking new interprovincial freetrade deal

TORONTO — Federal, provincial and territorial trade ministers said Tuesday discussions to create a new internal trade deal are about halfway finished and there is a “historic” amount of agreement between them.[np_storybar title=”Western premiers call for creation of Canada Free Trade zone, complete overhaul of internal trade” link=”http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/western-premiers-call-for-creation-of-canada-free-trade-zone-complete-overhaul-of-internal-trade”%5DCanada’s western premiers have sent a joint letter to their provincial counterparts calling for them to help create a domestic free trade zone by knocking down internal trade barriers estimated to cost the country $50-billion a year.Read on [/np_storybar]The ministers met in Toronto to talk about renewing the 20-year-old Agreement on Internal Trade.Industry Minister James Moore says it’s “completely backwards” to have less economic freedom within Canada than the country has agreed to with the rest of the world.He says there is agreement among the ministers to make sure Canada is as open interprovincially as it is to Europe and the United States on trade, labour mobility and the movement of goods and services.Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid says they are well on their way to reaching an agreement by March and the ministers will meet at least once more before that.Duguid says the ministers also heard today from members of the business community, who said there are myriad regulations across the provinces that get in the way of commerce.Renewed push for Canadian free-trade zone to be revealed by Ottawa, provinces on TuesdayU.S. investors are key to Canada’s economic developmentThe Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses wants a comprehensive, national trade agreement to eliminate what it calls “artificial barriers” that prevent the movement of goods, services and labour within Canada.It wants changes so when a product or service complies with rules in one province, it will be acceptable to all provinces, and an assumption that cross-border trade between provinces is permitted unless stated otherwise.The CFIB also wants to see a faster and more direct approach to solving disputes about interprovincial trade. read more