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‘Every province has completely different rules and regulations’: Saskatchewan businesses await new interprovincial trade deal

WATCH ABOVE: Local reaction to an upcoming interprovincial trade agreement

Since opening nearly two years ago, Regina-based Rebellion Brewing has served a lot of beer.

“Just about 50,000 growlers in 18 months,” owner Mark Heise said.

The exceptional growth has resulted in close to 80 restaurants and pubs across Saskatchewan now serving the brew.

At one point, Heise even contemplated expanding the business beyond Saskatchewan until he ran into a roadblock.

“There’s a ton of challenges right now because every province has completely different rules and regulations,” he explained.

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Such different laws have been criticized for creating interprovincial trade barriers that affect numerous industries like local construction companies wanting to bid on neighbouring government contacts.

READ MORE: Cross-border beer import ruling sparks debate on interprovincial trade

Jason Childs, a University of Regina economics professor, said the barriers are not only costly for business but also for provincial economies.

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“The current interprovincial trade barriers we’re looking at cost Saskatchewan about $5.2 billion a year,” he said.

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Saskatchewan already has the New West Partnership with B.C. and Alberta that addresses issues like harmonizing certain regulations.

READ MORE: New West Partnership commits to easier trade between provinces

However, an updated  Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) between all provinces, territories and the federal government is currently being negotiated that will addresses regulation harmonization and also increased market access.

“One of the things we’re looking for under this deal is to have a negative list and that means every sector is included unless its specifically excluded out,” Intergovernmental Affairs deputy minister Kent Campbell said.

The agreement was initially promised to be completed early this Spring but Campbell says negotiations have been on-going and that ministers will meet this week with the possibility of signing an agreement.

For businesses owners like Heise, he hopes a deal will create a national market that is more accessible.

“A perfect system would be to sell our beer where ever we want to in Canada without any huge obstacles other than some simple paperwork.”

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