Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee of Ministers on Internal Trade

NEWS RELEASE – Significant progress is achieved with a view to improving the Agreement on Internal Trade

Québec, June 6, 2005 – The Committee of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers responsible for Internal Trade met today in Québec. Mr. Benoît Pelletier, Québec‘s Minister responsible for Internal Trade, chaired this meeting, during which significant progress was made to improve the Agreement on Internal Trade (the Agreement), whose tenth anniversary of coming into force is being celebrated this year.

The objective of this meeting was to make progress in implementing the work plan on internal trade adopted by the Council of the Federation in February 2004. Ministers noted that considerable progress is being made on an Energy chapter to be incorporated in the Agreement, and have agreed to continue discussions with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable resolution in the near term.

The ministers also approved the terms of an in-depth review of the Agreement’s dispute settlement procedures. The changes that they agreed to will simplify and facilitate the recourse for businesses that believe they have suffered injury as the result of trade or mobility barriers. The ministers have asked their officials to complete, over the next year, a major review of the procedural aspects to make this recourse more user-friendly and effective. They also encouraged Labour Market Ministers to move forward in addressing the remaining labour mobility compliance issues which were identified through a comprehensive survey of occupational regulatory bodies.

Ministers agreed that the harmonization of regulations and standards is important for a competitive economy, and directed their officials to provide a report for their consideration at their next meeting. Amendments have been agreed to strengthen, clarify and increase flexibility within the procurement chapter. Ministers noted progress accomplished on other initiatives of the work plan and agreed to pursue work to complete these by their next meeting.

Mr. Pelletier highlighted the spirit of collaboration and cooperation that has characterized the work of the federal, provincial and territorial governments over the last year to reduce and eliminate barriers to internal trade and mobility. “The efforts aimed at increasing trade within Canada are part of an on-going process to improve intergovernmental relations; each decision and course of action taken today are additional steps in the right direction,” indicated Mr. Pelletier. He also welcomed the participation of the Honourable Mauril Bélanger, who was recently appointed as the federal Minister of Internal Trade.

“I am delighted to see that interprovincial trade is improving and that the Agreement on Internal Trade will continue to support the encouraging growth observed in trade between the provinces and territories in the past,” continued Mr. Pelletier.

The ministers agreed to meet again, next fall in Nova Scotia to maintain the momentum on addressing barriers to internal trade.

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Additional information:

Mr. Damir Croteau
Press Secretary
Office of Minister Benoît Pelletier
(418) 646-5950