Alberta wins trade fight with Ontario

By Staff

Edmonton – A ruling by a panel of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) will open the door to an approximately $225 million market in which Alberta oil seed producers can benefit.

The Alberta Government announced Monday that it had won a long-standing dispute with Ontario over the protectionist policies that have for years restricted Alberta vegetable oil producers and refiners from selling in Ontario.

Common vegetable oils include canola, sunflower and soya and are often used to create blends of margarine and butter and blended drinks such as soymilk.

“Oilseed production in Alberta is a significant and important part of our agriculture sector,” said Jack Hayden, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in a release Monday. “This ruling provides an opportunity for both our producers and our processing industry as we regain access to the Ontario market.”

The AIT panel determined that Ontario regulations restricting the sale of products that blend vegetable oil with dairy ingredients are a barrier to interprovincial trade and has given the province until Feb. 1, 2011 to comply with the ruling. If Ontario remains in breach of the AIT it could face a $5 million penalty.

Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations Iris Evans said the battle with Ontario had been a long fight but one that was worth fighting. “For too long Ontario has maintained these restrictions that are contrary to its domestic trade obligations and we are pleased the panel has ruled in our favour,” she said.

Alberta launched the challenge in March of 2010, supported by British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The AIT came into effect on July 1, 1995 to reduce and eliminate, to the extent possible, barriers to the free movement of people, goods, services, and investments within Canada and to establish an open, efficient, and stable domestic market. Through the AIT, governments work to remove existing interprovincial trade barriers, prevent the establishment of new barriers, and harmonize interprovincial standards.

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