Manitoba formally joins trade agreement between other western provinces

WINNIPEG – Manitoba has officially joined the New West Partnership — a trade agreement set up by the other western provinces in 2010.

The agreement is aimed at allowing business, labour and investment to flow more freely within the region and at reducing barriers to inter-provincial sales.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister campaigned on a promise to join the trade deal before his Progressive Conservatives were elected in April.

Prior to joining, Manitoba had complained when Saskatchewan announced it would limit some Crown corporation contracts to businesses within the trade zone.

The Alberta government changed its liquor pricing last year to make craft beer from the partnership provinces less expensive than beer from elsewhere.

The former NDP government in Manitoba had balked at joining the regional deal because the New Democrats were focusing on a national trade deal among all provinces.

Former premier Greg Selinger said he also had concerns that the trade deal’s rules for settling disputes would lead to expensive lawsuits instead of mediation.

Pallister said Thursday joining the partnership will be good for Manitoba.

“Business owners, community leaders and chambers of commerce from across Manitoba have long called for our province to pursue new opportunities for growth and reduced trade barriers,” he said in a news release.

“Joining the New West Partnership will bring these advantages.”

The trade deal is aimed at creating an open market of more than 11 million people, with a combined annual economy of more than $750 billion.