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Agreement on Internal Trade Appears to Prevent, Not Eliminate, Trade Barriers

New PIAC report, “Dispute Resolution in the Agreement on Internal Trade: A Consumer Perspective”

OTTAWA, July 31, 2015– The Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) dispute resolution mechanism has a closed consultation process, a lack of third-party oversight and uncertain applicability, according to a new Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) report.

PIAC’s new report, entitled, “Dispute Resolution in the Agreement on Internal Trade: A Consumer Perspective,” concludes that a series of structural, jurisdictional and procedural amendments are required in order for the Agreement to meet its objectives – and serve the ultimate beneficiaries, Canadian consumers – in a more efficient manner.

“The AIT’s dispute resolution process appears to focus on preventing new barriers to trade, not removing existing ones,” noted Jonathan Bishop, PIAC’s Research Analyst and co-author of the report. “We found evidence the current process lacks transparency and third party oversight, making us question its effectiveness to remove unjustified and harmful provincial trade barriers,” said Bishop. As a result, the report suggests expanding the Agreement’s capacity to lower trade barriers by resolving disputes outside of currently defined categories.

Some of the report’s other recommendations include:

  • Establish a permanent, limited, rotating roster appellate panel.
  • Develop a limited appeal mechanism.
  • Introduce facilitators upon request during the consultation stage.
  • Remove the interpretive priority of vertical sectoral chapters over horizontal ones, and permit panels to evaluate the consistency of a measure with the Party’s commitments based on the merits of a case.
  • Remove disputant’s ability to block a panel’s consultation with experts and other third parties and formalize a mechanism that facilitates submissions to a panel by public interest groups.


To see the full report, please consult the following link:

Dispute Resolution in Agreement on Internal Trade

To view the report in French, please consult the following link:

Dispute Resolution in Agreement on Internal Trade FR


For more information please contact:

Jonathan Bishop
Research & Parliamentary Analyst
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
(613) 562-4002×23


John Lawford
Executive Director & General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
(613) 562-4002×25


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