Canadian Free Trade Agreement Press Conference
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, PC, MP
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
April 7, 2017
Check Against Delivery
Good afternoon, everyone.
Let me start by acknowledging my provincial and territorial counterparts who are here today.
In particular, I want to salute our chair from Ontario, Minister Brad Duguid. Minister Duguid has worked enormously hard to get us where we are today. Thank you, Brad.
I also want to acknowledge current and former federal colleagues of all political stripes. We wouldn’t be here today without their hard work.
In particular, I want to salute my predecessor, James Moore.
I also want to acknowledge my honourable colleagues on the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.
Their rallying cry for Canada to tear down the walls created by trade barriers within our own country has contributed to a stronger economic union.
Ladies and gentlemen, today is an exciting day for Canadians.
On the eve of Canada’s 150th birthday, we are celebrating the birth of a landmark accord: the Canadian Free Trade Agreement.
This agreement contains a number of historic firsts.
It includes all federal, provincial and territorial governments.
And for the first time, that includes our 14th signatory—Nunavut.
In another historic first, this agreement will open up trade within our borders in virtually every sector of the economy.
That’s why this agreement is the most ambitious trade deal to cover our home market.
This agreement will allow Canadians to buy and sell more freely within our own borders, which means it will create more business and job opportunities for middle-class Canadians.
Importantly, it will maintain strong provisions to ensure that Canadians can work in different parts of the country.
Carpenters, insurance adjusters, welders and plumbers, and even accountants like me—folks who work in these licensed professions will be able to have their Canadian credentials recognized across the country.
This agreement will also give consumers more choice, especially if they want to buy goods and services from other parts of Canada.
That means it will be easier for all of us to enjoy the best of what this country has to offer.
This agreement will make it easier and less costly for companies to sell their goods and services across the country, which means Canadians can expect to pay less for what they buy.
Additionally, this agreement will enable more businesses to sell to governments across the country.
A small company in Halifax or Winnipeg will have more opportunity to secure contracts from all levels of government.
In fact, for the first time ever, Canadian companies operating in certain regulated professions, such as engineering and architecture, will be able to compete for government contracts across the country.
That’s good for business.
It’s good for workers.
And it’s good for taxpayers, who can expect more value for money.
In another historic first, suppliers to most publicly owned energy utilities can bid for a range of government contracts in many parts of the country.
These contracts are estimated to be worth more than $4.7 billion annually.
That’s a brand new business opportunity for large and small companies across Canada.
As well, this agreement will require governments to work on having fewer rules and regulations that stifle the growth of Canadian businesses.
These regional differences in rules and regulations can discourage firms from expanding within Canada.
And they can lead to higher prices and less choice for consumers.
This agreement will also ensure that businesses based in Canada have the same or better access to their home market as our international trading partners.
More open markets will help Canadian businesses scale up at home so that they can compete globally.
And as these companies grow, they will create more middle-class jobs for Canadians.
This agreement is forward looking.
It sets out a process and timetable for working toward enhanced trade in the few sectors of the economy that are not currently covered.
That includes the sale of alcoholic beverages.
We’ve heard Canadians loud and clear when it comes to freeing the beer.
So all governments have pledged to work to enhance trade in beer, wine and spirits.
That’s another historic first.
Finally, this agreement will automatically apply to new and emerging sectors.
That means new products and services, from clean technologies to information technologies, will benefit from the same freedom of movement enjoyed by more established sectors.
That’s how free trade within Canada drives innovation.
This feature is also a historic first.
As in any negotiation, reaching this deal required compromise.
It also required unprecedented levels of cooperation among the federal government, provinces and territories.
I’m proud of the Government of Canada’s role in brokering this agreement.
We made sure that this accord was far-reaching enough to meet or exceed the ambition of Canada’s international trade agreements.
We also made sure the agreement focused on cutting red tape so businesses could expand and innovate more easily.
And we took a strong stand to make sure that the agreement had teeth.
The result is that this agreement has strong mechanisms to hold all governments to account for living up to the terms of the agreement.
Finally, the Government of Canada spearheaded the effort to make sure that alcohol sales were part of the scope of the agreement.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Canadian Free Trade Agreement strengthens our home-field advantage.
It emphasizes to the world that Canada is open for business.
And the timing couldn’t be better.
This agreement will come into effect on July 1.
I can’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.
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