N.B. government pleased with new internal-trade agreement

A New Brunswick government minister will oversee the implementation of a new internal trade agreement that will remove domestic trade barriers.

Roger Melanson, minister responsible for Trade Policy and chair of the national Committee on Internal Trade, said Friday the agreement will provide more opportunities for New Brunswick businesses to sell their goods and services across Canada.

The 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.

Melanson will call a meeting of the Committee on Internal Trade in the near future to establish the working groups that arose from the negotiations.

With files from The Canadian Press