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Canada's own free-trade pact

Published by CME Manitoba on April 07, 2017

This article appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on  April 7, 2017

Deal touted as being better for Manitoba's economy and job market

The new internal trade agreement unveiled Friday will break down barriers and allow Manitoba businesses and workers to truly compete for roles on the national stage, says provincial Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen.

 

"This partnership with the rest of Canada... is a great news story for Manitoba, a great news story for Manitobans and in fact, all Canadians. And we are happy to be part of that," Cullen told a gathering of media and stakeholders on the work floor of Winnipeg-based equipment manufacturer Monarch Industries Ltd.

"The Canadian Free Trade Agreement means better jobs for Manitobans, a stronger economy for Manitoba and better access to goods and services across our country."

With the low hum of idle machinery in the air and a work bench displaying hydraulic cylinders in varying stages of construction as a backdrop, Manitoba made its participation in the CFTA official Friday afternoon — as did the 13 other jurisdictions involved (the federal government, the provinces and territories) at similar events across Canada.

The Canadian Free Trade Agreement comes into effect July 1 (replacing the two-decade-old Agreement on Internal Trade) and covers nearly every sector of the national economy. It is based on a "negative list" approach that applies to all government measures outside of those deemed specifically exempt (national security and taxation are among such exemptions).

The 320-page document also covers the creation of sectors yet to exist, such as the sale of marijuana, once the federal government legalizes it.

The Bank of Canada estimates the deal could provide an economic boost of $120 million per year for Manitoba, Cullen said. The estimate has been pegged at close to $25 billion annually for the Canadian economy as a whole.

At the heart of the agreement, the CFTA prohibits discriminating among goods, services, workers and investments based on their province or territory of origin.

Proponents said it will create a more level playing field across the country in terms of potentially eliminating regulatory barriers that impede internal trade and allowing an open market for services via the creation of a single government-run electronic portal, which will make it easier for Canadian businesses to find procurement opportunities across the country.

It will also increase businesses’ access to billions of dollars in government procurement opportunities and increase the fines that can be levied against a jurisdiction for not complying with agreed-upon CFTA rulings. (In the case of Manitoba, such fines could reach a maximum of $2 million; larger population centres, such as Ontario, have a $10-million maximum.)

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