Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade

Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism, issued this statement today after ministers representing all provinces and territories and the federal government signed the Canadian Free Trade Agreement replacing the former Agreement on Internal Trade.

“As a province that has long pushed for Canadian governments to eliminate barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility, British Columbia is pleased to sign the final Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA).

“This agreement represents another step forward towards growing our local and national economies.

“The fact is, nearly 40% of Canada’s trade takes place within our nation’s borders and we rely on this trade to support economic growth and job creation.

“Under the new agreement, every province and territory stands to benefit from our shared commitment to maintain a modern, open and competitive internal market.

“B.C. played a key role in negotiating the CFTA – particularly in proposing the negative-list approach, which resulted in a more comprehensive trade agreement overall. Under this approach, all trade barriers across all sectors are lifted unless specifically identified as an exception. This is the same approach B.C. took to develop the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, an agreement that continues to be the most comprehensive internal trade model in Canada.

“While we had hoped the CFTA would include fewer exceptions, we are satisfied that it includes many improvements B.C. was advocating for, including better access to procurement opportunities across Canada, fewer regulatory barriers for businesses, and a better process for reconciling regulatory measures.

“As time goes on, we will continue to press other jurisdictions to reduce their exceptions, allowing goods, services, capital and workers to flow freely across our borders because it’s good for business, good for consumers and great for British Columbians.”