Canada trade agreement will benefit Island businesses
MacDougall Steel Erectors is optimistic about what the new Canada Free Trade Agreement will mean for the company.
The agreement (CFTA) promises to benefit MacDougall Steel which – although based in the Borden-Carleton area – does much of its business off Island, especially in Alberta. Economic Development and Tourism Minister Heath MacDonald was in Toronto today for the announcement of the CTFA, which comes into effect on July 1.
“We worked closely with the province during negotiations to ensure that the new CFTA would improve our foothold in the Alberta market, which is critical for our company,” MacDougall Steel Chief Financial Officer Kirk MacKinnon said. “It is very important that we have the same opportunities to compete for large public sector infrastructure contracts in Alberta and be on an equal footing with other companies.”
“We applaud the efforts of our provincial government in the negotiations to ensure our company and other PEI suppliers compete on a level playing field,” MacKinnon said.
The agreement makes improvements to the Canadian market that will create new opportunities for businesses to innovate and grow at home while helping them compete internationally. This is especially critical for a trading province like Prince Edward Island.
“As a province that relies heavily on trade both domestically and internationally, it is critical that our companies have the ability to move their goods, services, and people around the country without restrictions,” Premier Wade MacLauchlan said. “We worked very hard through these negotiations to ensure Island companies have the same ability to compete, and are considered on a level playing field with other companies both domestically and internationally. I am happy to say we were successful on both fronts.”
Domestic trade accounts for nearly two-thirds of overall trade for Prince Edward Island, and nearly three-quarters of its gross domestic product. The majority of this trade occurs in Ontario, Quebec and the other Atlantic provinces, but the new agreement will open up new opportunities in other provinces.
“This agreement will open up a wealth of new opportunities for Island companies and entrepreneurs,” Minister MacDonald said. “It’s also very timely; the Canada – European Union Trade Agreement is now coming into force and it extends certain privileges to European companies. Under CFTA those privileges are extended to all Canadian companies as well, so they are not at a competitive disadvantage.”
Specifically, CFTA will:
• reduce barriers to trade, investment, and worker mobility;
• increase choice for consumers;
• expand access to government contracts; and
• create more jobs for Canadians.
It includes rules that open trade in goods and services, processes that reduce differences in regulations and standards, and provisions that increase access to billions of dollars in government procurement opportunities for Canadian businesses. The agreement also establishes new processes to liberalize domestic trade in areas such as alcoholic beverages and financial services.
For more information, visit Canada Free Trade Agreement.
• Interprovincial trade (trade within Canada) accounts for nearly two-thirds of Prince Edward Island trade
• Domestic trade in 2015 amounted to $4.59 billion or 74 per cent of the province’s current Gross Domestic Product
• Domestic trade in 2015 accounted for 64 per cent of all imports and exports for Prince Edward Island
• Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces account for 92 per cent of the Island’s exports within Canada
• Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces account for 90 per cent of Prince Edward Island imports from inside Canada
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce played a critical role at the national level during the negotiations. The chamber was a member of a business alliance which provided a list of key recommendations to include in the new agreement.
“We are very supportive of initiatives which help improve the business environment across the country,” Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce President of the Pam Williams said. “As a member of the Canadian Chamber we are very encouraged by the outcomes of the new CFTA and the improvements should go a long way to supporting local businesses in PEI to do more business across Canada.”
The food industry on PEI is also applauding the new agreement, but they say this is only the beginning of their work to see improved harmonization of regulations that could enhance the flow of goods between provinces.
“We see the regulatory reconciliation process within the new agreement as a very important mechanism to assist in our efforts to access markets across Canada as cost-efficiently as possible,” the Chair of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board Rodney Dingwell said. “The new CFTA has established a robust regulatory reconciliation process which we understand will help resolve barriers to trade in the food industry when we encounter them.”
Harbourside Enginnering is continually looking for new opportunities in other provinces. That company sees the new agreement as beneficial to its efforts to grow its business.
“Under the new CFTA, there will be much more opportunity for engineering firms to compete for contracts across the country,” Harbourside Engineering founding partner Greg MacDonald said. “We look forward to the additional opportunities the new CFTA will present us as a firm to do more business at the national level.”
For smaller businesses it can be critical to have opportunities in other provinces, and under the new agreement there is improved access to procurement opportunities and dispute resolution mechanisms to ensure procurement activities are carried out in a fair manner.
“We had a situation where we were treated very unfairly in another jurisdiction and there was no recourse available to us beyond very expensive legal means,” Owner of Mugisha Enterprises Brian Sharp said. “Under this new agreement dispute resolution mechanisms are in place to ensure everyone is treated fairly regardless of their origin jurisdiction, so we are very supportive of these changes.
Senior Communications Officer
Department of Economic Development and Tourism