VANCOUVER, BC-Faced with a slowing economy, a new Fraser
Institute study shows that Canada could boost economic growth
by following Alberta and British Columbia's lead and adopting
the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement
The report, Myths and Realities of TILMA, indicates how the TILMA approach to eliminating interprovincial trade and investment barriers could easily be
adapted to include the rest of Canada, and could also be used
as a model for trade agreements in other countries.
"It makes no sense to leave barriers and impediments to
domestic trade, investment and mobility unresolved while we
spend billions and go into debt in an attempt to stimulate the
economy;" said Robert Knox, former executive director of the
Internal Trade Secretariat and co-author of
Myths and Realities of TILMA.
TILMA recognizes that skilled Canadians certified to work in
one province will automatically be deemed qualified to work in
the other without having to go through additional tests and
assessments. On January 16 of this year, Canada's first
ministers took a first crucial step in this direction. They
reached a comparable deal on labour mobility, allowing workers
certified in one province to be recognized as qualified for
that occupation by all other provinces and territories.
"This is a refreshing and important development but it
shouldn't stop there. Given the current economic woes, joining
TILMA is a costless way to stimulate Canada's economic growth,"
The report calls TILMA a promising model for a national
trade agreement because of its sweeping coverage and scope
which, in addition to improving labour mobility, will:
- Eliminate artificial trade barriers and impediments which
waste resources and time for those doing business in other
- Provide open and non-discriminatory access to government
- Create a clear, comprehensive, and enforceable dispute
The report points out that although Canada enacted the
Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) in 1995 with the objective of
establishing an open and efficient domestic market, the
agreement has failed to eliminate barriers and impediments to
trade and job mobility.
"Canada cannot expect to compete and prosper in a global
economy with the uncertainty and costs of arbitrary, unresolved
barriers and impediments to trade, commerce, and mobility,"
said Amela Karabegović, Fraser Institute associate director of
globalization studies and co-author of the report.
"TILMA proposes real, enforceable solutions to the problems
spawning from the AIT."
The report charges that the AIT has failed because:
- It is complex, bureaucratic, and difficult to
- Its rules and principles apply only to those issues named
in the agreement, not to all trade issues;
- Its dispute resolution procedure is overlapping, slow,
and expensive to apply; and
- There are no consequences if governments choose to ignore
Unlike the AIT, TILMA rests on the general principle of
liberalizing trade across all areas.
"TILMA has one set of rules and principles that apply to all
government measures relating to trade, investment, or labour
mobility, except those specifically identified as exclusions or
exceptions," Karabegović said. "This makes it easier to apply
than the AIT, which was limited to a list of specific sectors
that the parties agreed to liberalize."
Another key improvement over the AIT is that TILMA has a
clear, enforceable dispute-resolution mechanism, including
consequences for parties who do not comply with a dispute
resolution panel's findings. Under the AIT, there are no
consequences if governments ignore their obligations.
Overall, the authors advocate that extending TILMA to
include the rest of the country is a big step towards a
stronger, more dynamic and entrepreneurial Canada.
"The larger market and increased labour opportunities
established by TILMA will allow the combined economy to attract
more workers from across Canada," Knox said
"It will lower the costs associated with licensing and
occupational certification, which will bring both
worker-specific and broad-based benefits to the economy."