Open Trade Principles would Improve Economic Fundamentals, Coalition tells Premiers

    OTTAWA, July 14 /CNW/ - The following letter was sent to Premier
Jean Charest by a coalition of 10 national business and professional
organizations as he prepares to host the meeting of the Council of the
Federation in Quebec City, July 16 to 18.

    Dear Premier Charest:

    In anticipation of next week's meeting of the Council of the Federation
in Quebec City, we are writing to express our strong support for your
objective of creating a stronger and more effective Agreement on Internal
Trade, particularly as it relates to dispute resolution and enforcement. Given
the slowdown in the economy and uncertainty, your efforts are timely in
helping to improve Canada's economic fundamentals for the future.
    Earlier this year, our organizations joined other business and
professional associations in releasing a report titled, Improving Internal
trade: A Bold Approach. Our paper called for legislative enactments to
establish a set of "open trade principles" designed to ensure a free and open
domestic market and a standing internal tribunal that would be accessible to
all Canadians as a means of resolving internal trade disputes.
    We note your direction earlier this year to ministers to complete
negotiations for your upcoming meeting related to your five-point plan. We are
pleased that clear timelines for the final ratification of the labour mobility
chapter and a dispute resolution mechanism have been established. We encourage
the adoption of similar timetables to complete work in the other areas of your
plan, notably energy, agriculture and transportation.
    We understand ministers reached a consensus on an enforcement mechanism
to resolve disputes, including a tiered approach to monetary penalties in the
event of non-compliance. This improvement is to be presented by ministers as
an amendment to the Agreement by end of year. Additionally, we understand that
as part of this consensus, ministers agreed to a mechanism to deal with
outstanding disputes under the AIT and that this mechanism will be included in
the proposed amendments by year end.
    Effective and enforceable dispute resolution is essential to the
credibility of the Agreement, both for any future disputes and to bring
parties into compliance with panel decisions already rendered.
    Such a step would mark a strong step forward in restoring confidence in
the Agreement. We look forward to the results of your meeting in Quebec City.

    The coalition consists of the Canadian Bankers Association, the Canadian
Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian
Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters,
the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, the Canadian Restaurant and
Foodservices Association, the Certified General Accountants Association of
Canada, the Dairy Processors Association of Canada and the Vegetable Oil
Industry of Canada.
    Copies of the coalition's discussion paper, Improving Internal Trade: A
Bold Approach, are available online at

For further information:

For further information: Sean McPhee, President, Vegetable Oil Industry
of Canada, Cell: (416) 970-6878, Email:; Carole Presseault,
Vice-President, Government & Regulatory Affairs, CGA-Canada, Cell: (613)
796-0422, Email:

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