Agreement on Internal Trade

Benefits of the Agreement on Internal Trade

AIT (The Agreement on Internal Trade) is an intergovernmental agreement that came into force in 1995 signed by Canadian First Ministers. AIT has a purpose to foster the improvement of the trade between the provinces by resolving all of the obstacles to the mobility of goods, investments, services, and persons, within the territory of Canada.The adoption of the AIT marks a significant improvement in removing all existing trade barriers between the provinces, preventing the appearance of new potential barriers and harmonizing the interprovincial standards. These actions are reducing all extra costs that affect Canadian companies by having more efficient internal trade, increased access to the market for Canadian businesses and facilitating free movements for professionals and trades.

Guiding Principles

All AIT parties agreed to have six general rules, that were established to prevent the governments from creating new trade barriers and to reduce the already existing barriers:

  • Non-discrimination
    Equal treatment established for all investments, Canadian persons, services, and goods.
  • Exit and entry rights
    Prohibiting of all measures that obstruct the free movement of services, services, persons, goods, or investments around the territories of the provinces.
  • No obstacles 
    Ensuring that all practices and policies from the provincial/territorial governments don’t create barriers to trade.
  • Legitimate objectives
    Making sure that all territorial/provincial non-trade goals which may cause some alteration from the above guidelines to have a minimal unfavorable impact on the interprovincial trade.
  • Reconciliation
    Making the base to eliminate trade barriers that can be caused by the differences in regulations and standards across Canada.
  • Transparency
    Having access to all information by interested companies, people and governments.

Economic Sectors

The AIT is focused on reducing the trade barriers that appear in eleven specific sectors:

  • Procurement 
    Elimination of all preferences on the local prices, unfair registration requirements, biased technical specifications,  and other practices that are discriminatory for suppliers that are non-resident in order to ensure equal access to procurement for all interested Canadian suppliers.
  • Investment 
    Ensuring Canadian businesses can make investment decisions based on market conditions by eliminating barriers to investment based on head-office location, prohibiting local content and purchasing conditions, reducing local residency requirements and standardizing corporate registration requirements.
  • Labour Mobility
    Qualified workers to be able to practice their profession anywhere on the territory of Canada by eliminating all the barriers such as certification, requiring licensing, and residency requirements.
  • Measures and Standards related to Consumer
    Reconciling the consumer protection requirements of different provinces and territories which act as non-tariff barriers in order to allow Canadian firms to capitalize on economies of scale by servicing larger markets with the same products.
  • Agricultural and Food ProductsExamining supply management systems for dairy, poultry, and eggs; removing technical barriers between provinces, such as differing product and grade standards, and plant and animal health regulations.
  • Alcoholic Beverages
    Prohibition of all practices that are discriminatory in areas such as distribution, pricing, product listing, and merchandising between retail outlets and the liquor control boards and of the provinces and territories.
  • Natural Resources Processing
    Prohibiting the introduction of new barriers to the processing of forestry, fisheries and mineral resource products.
  • EnergyHarmonising the treatment of energy goods and energy services. Negotiations are still underway on this chapter.
  • CommunicationsEnsuring equal access to public telecommunications networks and the use of public telecommunications services.
  • Transportation
    Harmonizing the regulations applicable to commercial vehicles such as safety standards and weights and dimension rules.
  • Environmental Protection
    Ensuring that federal, provincial or territorial environmental protection measures do not become a non-tariff trade barrier.

Dispute Resolution Procedures

The AIT features a formal dispute settlement mechanism to deal with complaints. It is accessible to governments, individuals and the private sector.

For More Information

Each province, territory and the federal government has an Internal Trade Representative assigned to handle internal trade matters within their respective jurisdictions.  An up-to-date listing of representatives is available in the Contact Us section.The Internal Trade Secretariat was formed to support and administer the AIT. For more information about the AIT, please contact the Secretariat.