Premier McNeil pleased with new internal-trade agreement

A new internal-trade agreement that will remove domestic trade barriers is expected to add billions of dollars to the economy.

The Canada Free Trade Agreement, unveiled in Toronto on Friday, takes a "negative list" approach, meaning it automatically covers all sectors except when exemptions are listed.

Officials have struggled to pin a number on the potential economic benefits, but Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid, who was also chair of the negotiations, says the deal is expected to add $25 billion a year to the economy.

What's not in the deal, which takes effect Canada Day, is an agreement to streamline standards for alcohol across Canada; instead a working group will report back by July 1, 2018.

The deal also lays the groundwork for talks to eventually establish a process to help provinces and territories regulate the trade of recreational pot.

Officials say the deal will put Canadian businesses on equal footing with foreign companies when competing for government procurement contracts across the country.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said Friday the agreement will make it easier and less costly for Nova Scotia businesses to sell their goods and services across Canada.

The province said about half of its trade in goods and services is interprovincial.

A recent Atlantic Provinces Economic Council report indicated that the long-term gains in Atlantic Canada's GDP from removing trade barriers could be as high as $8.5 billion.

With files from The Canadian Press