Eliminating Barriers to Trade

Trade Agreements

British Columbia businesses looking to trade with other countries benefit from operating in one of the world’s most open trading economies. The provincial and federal governments are signatories to interprovincial and international agreements designed to reduce or eliminate barriers to trade.

These agreements provide preferential market access, making it easier and more efficient for you to do business. Trade agreements: 
  • outline clear rules, increasing predictability
  • reduce costs through the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers
  • provide a mechanism to address discriminatory practices that hinder trade and investment

Businesses in British Columbia operate under trade agreements within Canada and key international markets, including the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement. 


Trade within Canada

Agreement on Internal Trade

The Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) is a domestic trade agreement between Canadian provinces and territories (except Nunavut) and the federal government. It came into effect on July 1, 1995 to reduce or eliminate barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services, and investment within Canada and to establish an open, efficient, and stable domestic market. For example, Chapter 7 of the AIT allows for the movement of skilled workers and professionals wherever in the country they are needed. It is currently being re-negotiated with an aim to modernize and improve the Agreement.

Learn more about Canada’s Agreement on Internal Trade

Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement

The Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) is an agreement between the Governments of British Columbia and Alberta that expands provincial trade and investment opportunities and reduces impediments to trade between the two provinces. It was signed in 2006 and took effect on April 1, 2007. 

Learn more about the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement.

New West Partnership Trade Agreement

The New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA) is an internal agreement between the Governments of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. It builds on the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between British Columbia and Alberta, creating Canada's largest, barrier-free, interprovincial market.
The NWPTA is more comprehensive than the AIT, focused on further reducing or eliminating barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility. It came into effect on July 1, 2010, with full implementation on July 1, 2013. 

Learn more about the New West Partnership Trade Agreement

Trade with Other Countries

World Trade Organization

The WTO is the only global organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations . At its heart are the WTO agreements, which are negotiated, signed and ratified by most of the world’s trading nations. Canada has been a member of the WTO since 1995. 

Learn more about the World Trade Organization.

Trade with China

Canada and China jointly released the Canada-China Economic Complementarities Study in 2012.  The study focused on key sectors where the two economies are complementary and where there is the greatest potential for future growth. In November 2014, China and Canada announced a “track two dialogue” through the establishment of a panel of experts to discuss trade and economic relations.

Learn more about the Canada-China Economic Complementarities Study

Trade with Europe

A free trade agreement between Canada and the European Free Trade Association countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland came into force in 2009. This agreement focused on tariff elimination and did not include substantial new obligations in areas such as services, investment and intellectual property. 

Learn more about the Canada – European Free Trade Association agreement.

The European Union and Canada have signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which is expected to be implemented in 2017. When CETA comes into force, Canada will be one of the few countries in the world to have guaranteed preferential access to the world’s two largest economies – the US and the EU. Learn more about CETA.

Learn more about Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.


Trade with India

Canada and India began negotiations toward a Canada-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in 2010.

Learn more about the Canada-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations.


Trade with Japan

In 2012, Canada and Japan announced the launch of comprehensive and high-level Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations. 

Learn more about the Canada-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.


Trade with South Korea

The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA), Canada’s first free trade agreement with an Asian trading partner, came into force on January 1, 2015. The Agreement covers virtually all aspects of Canada-South Korean trade, including trade in goods and services, investment, government procurement, non-tariff barriers, environment and labour cooperation, and other areas of economic activity.

Learn more about the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement.


Trade with the United States

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a comprehensive legal framework for duty-free trade between Canada, the United States and Mexico. Companies located in British Columbia, regardless of their corporate nationality, can export and import duty-free within the NAFTA region, provided the goods meet NATFA’s Rules of Origin. 

Learn more about North American Free Trade Agreement and the Rules of Origin.


Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has 12 members: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.  The TPP is designed to create a free trade area for all members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (including potential new members like China, Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, the latter three having already expressed an interest in joining).
The TPP covers all aspects of trade, including improved market access for goods and services, investment, financial services, government procurement, intellectual property, the environment, and labour.

The TPP negotiations concluded on October 5, 2015.

Learn more about Trans-Pacific Partnership


Other Negotiations and Agreements

Companies located in British Columbia also benefit from Canada’s other trade and investment agreements. 

Learn more about Canada’s negotiations and agreements.