The west has always led the fight for free trade within Canada, and yesterday, Alberta was proud to set a new standard for openness and free enterprise by announcing real action to set a new standard on internal free trade. It is time to move beyond timid gradualism, and if that takes one province to set an entrepreneurial example, then Alberta is proud to be that province.
That is why I announced on Wednesday that Alberta will drop all of our provincial exceptions to the 2017 Canadian Free Trade Agreement relating to procurement, and we invite other provinces to do the same. We are also launching a fast-track review of the few remaining exceptions with the goal of eliminating those that are not required by international trade agreements, our relationship with First Nations, or a similarly compelling reason. Finally, we have invited other willing provinces to join the four western provinces in the more trade-friendly New West Partnership Trade Agreement. This will make Alberta the most open market in Canada.
This action is overdue. Internal barriers to trade and labour mobility within Canada cost our economy between $50 billion and $130 billion every year — a number that dwarfs the benefits of recent free trade agreements with Asia or Europe. Statistics Canada says that this is the equivalent of a seven per cent tariff on goods crossing provincial borders. By comparison, they found no such drag on trade between U.S. states.