In 1994, each Canadian province and territory signed the Agreement on Internal Trade to reduce barriers to the free movement of goods, services, people and investment within Canada. It was barely a start. Today, many businesses—from cheese makers to brewers to truckers—face onerous rules for selling out-of-province.

That may soon change. In July, provincial and territorial ministers agreed “in principle” to open trade, to nix obstacles to government procurement and to standardize rules. Alcohol is excluded, but that issue may be resolved in the courts: In April, a New Brunswick judge ruled restrictions on importing beer into the province are unconstitutional, which “completely moved the goalposts,” says Ian A. Blue, senior counsel at Gardiner Roberts LLP in Toronto.

After 22 years, it seems we are finally close to a Canada-wide free trade zone.

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Sources: Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce; TD Economics; Statistics Canada; Internal Trade, Productivity, and Interconnected Industries: A Quantitative Analysis by Lukas Albrecht and Trevor Tombe

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