A “New East Partnership”: Breaking down interprovincial trade barriers in Atlantic Canada

Free trade agreements are giving small businesses unprecedented access to international markets, but Canada’s most pervasive barriers to internal trade - the movement of goods, services, and labour across provincial boundaries - are often overlooked. These often invisible barriers harm Atlantic Canada’s productivity and potential for economic growth. For the region to meet the challenges of the future, the four Atlantic provinces need to co-operate in breaking down these barriers, creating a single market in which small businesses can thrive.  The new CFIB report Building a “New East Partnership” explores how breaking down inter-provincial trade barriers within Atlantic Canada could unleash our regions’ potential.

Nine out of ten business owners agree that it should be just as easy to trade between provinces as between countries, yet only nine per cent of Atlantic small businesses say that the current Agreement on Internal Trade has benefitted them.

Building a “New East Partnership” makes several recommendations about barriers that could be brought down under a comprehensive “New East Partnership”:

  • Harmonizing each province’s apprenticeship system, and creating a regional database of apprentices;
  • Enhancing the co-operation of provincial Worker’s Compensation Boards;
  • Merging the four separate corporate registries into a single, unified registry;
  • Co-operative processes for setting seasonal weight restrictions and granting single-use fuel permits.
Fast Facts
  • The Agreement on Internal Trade, Canada’s most recent national trade agreement, was signed in 1995, almost 20 years ago
  • 91 per cent of businesses agree that all businesses should have open access to all markets within Canada
  • 92 per cent of businesses agree that it should be as easy to sell or purchase goods and/or services in another province or territory as in another country
  • Out of Atlantic businesses that experience barriers to trade, the most common challenges are high cost and regulations