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Internal Trade in Focus
Ten Ways to Improve the Canadian Free Trade Agreement

by Ryan Manucha

Series:Commentary No. 573
ISBN 9781989483374
Publication year: 2020

Cdn: $12.00; US: $12.00
Language: English
32 pages
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Reforms to the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) could ease access to justice for small businesses and individuals and bolster internal trade, says a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute.

In Internal Trade in Focus: Ten Ways to Improve the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, author Ryan Manucha calls for key reforms to the CFTA's dispute settlement rules to lessen barriers to interprovincial trade in Canada.

The recent pandemic has highlighted just how economically interdependent Canadians are with one another, and the extent of the nation's intertwined domestic supply chains. As the economy re-opens, and with global protectionism looming, interprovincial trade barriers take on heightened significance.

Economic estimates suggest that Canada's GDP would grow 4 percent by eliminating internal trade barriers, and that the patchwork nature of the Canadian regulatory landscape imposes the equivalent of a near 7 percent tariff on goods crossing provincial boundaries.

"Internal trade barriers divert economic resources away from their most efficient uses," writes Manucha. "Restrictions imposed on the movement of goods, services, people and investments across domestic borders curtail the enterprise of individual Canadians and Canadian businesses."

Reforming the CFTA's dispute resolution mechanism enhances the machinery that is used to tear down barriers, and further entrenches a domestic rules-based trading system. The report argues adversarial litigation plays an important role in domestic trade liberalization efforts, even if the heavy lifting is done chiefly through extensive and exhaustive inter-governmental reconciliation.

To further enhance the CFTA's effectiveness in promoting internal trade, the author also argues for reforms that expand the role of the CFTA Secretariat and identifies best practices for the CFTA's novel Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation process.

Manucha also points to the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, to which British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba currently belong, for insights on possible further reforms for the CFTA's dispute resolution mechanism.

Ryan Manucha is a Frederick Sheldon Fellow, Harvard University, and holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a B.A. in Economics from Yale University.
Internal Trade in Focus
Cdn: $12.00; US: $12.00
C.D. Howe Institute / Institut C.D. Howe BookID: 127515 Added: 2020.7.16