Monday, December 9, 2013

Attacking provincial trade barriers

There are more interprovincial trade barriers, especially between Ontario and Quebec, than international ones, complain Canadian businessmen.

Dairy and poultry industry trade barriers are the worst offenders, say four national business organizations – the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.

They are lobbying for improved inter-provincial trade on the eve of a meeting Dec. 12, yet they don’t expect the politicians to make much progress.

That will leave a strange situation – easier access to Canadian markets for European companies than Canadian-company access to markets in neighbouring provinces.

One example is margarine access to the Quebec market, says Sean McPhee of the Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada. Quebec continues to ban blends of butter and vegetable oils.

“We can’t get our act together among ourselves,” McPhee told Globe and Mail reporter Barry McKenna.

“It’s going to be driven by our international relationships. That seems to be the political reality,” McPhee said.

Jason Myers, president of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, said the new trade deal with the European Union is an ideal opportunity to negotiate to improve the Agreement on Internal Trade among provinces.

The Quebec and Ontario chicken marketing boards created a new barrier to trade this year, blocking processing companies from contracting to buy chickens from quota-holding farmers in the neighbouring province. That is under a court challenge from CAMI International Poultry Inc. of Welland, Ont.

Where, pray tell, is Premier and Agriculture Minister Kathleen Wynne on this issue? She looks to agriculture for significant economic gains, yet condones this stupid chicken-industry stupidity.

Differing provincial regulations increase costs for everything from fuel to transportation to labour and food, say the four organizations.

They say the new deal with the European Union could be used as a template for a new deal for inter-provincial trade.