2011-2012 Resolution: New West Partnership Agreement

Mar 25, 2011 | Chamber News

Preamble: The Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), which came into effect on July 1, 1995, is a national agreement designed to improve trade between the provinces/territories. But, progress has been frustratingly slow, with many aspects not yet agreed upon. There is also a lack of effective enforcement mechanisms, and those that exist are slow processes.

This lack of progress has led some provinces to create bi and tri-lateral agreements. These include:

  • In October, 2007 the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), came in effect between BC and AB
  • On October 1, 2009 the Ontario-Quebec Trade and Cooperation Agreement (OQTCA) took effect
  • On May 31, 2010, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia signed an agreement called the New West Partnership Agreement (NWPA), which expanded upon the previous TILMA

The New West Partnership Agreement contains the following four components:

  1. A comprehensive economic agreement, which will remove remaining barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility.
  2. An international co-operation agreement, that will see the three provinces co-operate on trade and investment missions to international markets, and share foreign market intelligence to advance joint interests and increase business competitiveness;
  3. An innovation agreement, which will enable provincial efforts to be coordinated to better attract investment and talent, as well as build critical mass;
  4. A procurement agreement that will enable the provinces to capitalize on their combined buying power through the joint procurement of goods and services.

Resolution: That the Government of Manitoba immediately enter into negotiations with the other three Western provinces with the intention of joining a new and improved New West Partnership Agreement.

Note: Click here to access some of the history relating to this issue.

Resolution Report:  

The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce produces Resolution reports as part of its commitment to be accountable to its members. The reports are updated as matters unfold and have two components:

MCC Advocacy: Specific activities the MCC has done to help make this Resolution a reality. 

Developments:  All other information (e.g. government action, media coverage, reports) that relates to Resolution. 

Advice, comments, and information sharing are welcome; simply enter a reply at the bottom of this post.

MCC Advocacy: 

May 15, 2011: The 2011-2012 Resolutions were posted on the MCC website, listed as part of a comprehensive Report on AGM 2011 and then notice of this story was circulated through a news release as well as in an MCC E-Update which is sent to all MCC members, Media and Government.

June 22, 2011: Resolution books were sent to every MLA and every Member of Parliament that hails from Manitoba. The following had this Resolution specifically drawn to their attention with a detailed letter setting out the background to this issue, Government initiatives (where applicable), and an argument for the Resolution:

  • The Premier
  • The Minister of Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade

September 30, 2011: The Manitoba BOLD campaign highlighted this issue with a news release entitled “Manitoba Bold Recommends Taking Manitoba Companies to the World to Grow.”

To read more click here

The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce was proud to be part of the BOLD initiative. In edition to posting this story on the MCC website it was mentioned on the MCC’s social media sites (Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn) and in its E-Update newsletter (goes out to 8,000 community and business leaders). As well, the MCC posted all announcements made by the parties during the election and each of those posts highlighted the BOLD initiative and provided links to further information on the BOLD recommendations.  

Developments:

July 18, 2011:  The Honourable Peter Bjornson; Minister of Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade; wrote to the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce on this issue.

Here is his response: 

The Honourable Peter Bjornson

With regard to the resolution on the New West Partnership, Manitoba continues to focus on Canadian-wide discussions with all provinces and territories in pursuit of the ultimate goal of efforts on internal trade barriers: a unified Canadian market. The Pan-Canadian Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) continues to be a critical mechanism enabling labour market access and mobility throughout Canada. 

While the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce resolution notes that the AIT contained inherent weaknesses when first signed in 1994, recent efforts have made important progress at strengthening the agreement. In recent years, these enhancements to the AIT include: 

  • provision for full labour mobility, based on licence-for-licence recognition, in all regulated occupations including financial services occupations;
  • stronger dispute resolution procedures, including enforceable monetary penalties for any government that fails to implement the results of dispute resolution panels; and
  • a revised Chapter on agriculture and food goods that provides for significantly expanded coverage.

Manitoba will continue to work toward a unified Canadian market but certainly remains open to participating in other agreements that will benefit Manitobans. Our province has a very good working relationship with the western provinces and territories, including individual and collective joint cabinet meetings with provinces such as Saskatchewan and BC. As always, we continue to have ongoing discussions with a number of different provinces and territories with respect to creating trade opportunities in Manitoba.   

In terms of the New West Partnership Agreement, Manitoba is currently discussing membership with the other western provinces. We agree with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce that this agreement is potentially of value and could complement our efforts to reduce internal trade barriers nationally and build on our significant successes in this area to date. We are building on the positive relationships that Manitoba already has with our western partners, including our recent joint Cabinet meetings with the Government of Saskatchewan.  Given the size of the Canadian market, our vision for trade in Canada is an internal trade agreement that is national in scope, and we hope to work with our partners regardless of the specific tools used to achieve this end.

October 20, 2011: A Winnipeg Free Press editorial entitled “Past time to index tax rates” touched upon this issue. 

It stated, in part, as follows: 

Beyond that, it is worrisome that the NDP have complacently let the economy ride along on massive government works and on the steam of federal transfers, that rose thanks to revenue-producing provinces, particularly in the West, to the benefit of have-not provinces. A government should encourage investment in more lasting ways. To that end, Premier Greg Selinger should join Manitoba to the New West Partnership so this province can be sold as a global trading partner with western counterparts. 

To read more click here.

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