Trade Agreements

The Province of British Columbia is a party to a number of trade agreements, including the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) and the national Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA)  and the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA), and is subject to the provisions of certain other trade agreements, including the World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement (WTO GPA) and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).  Ministries must abide by the terms and conditions of these trade agreements when undertaking procurements.


What is the Canadian Free Trade Agreement?

The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) came into force on July 1, 2017, replacing the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT)It is an intergovernmental agreement with the purpose to foster improved inter-provincial trade by removing inter-provincial obstacles and promoting the free movement of persons, goods, services and investments within Canada and to bring the treaty more in line with the Provinces treaty obligations under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and the WTO-Government Procurement Agreement (WTO-GPA).

Some of the provisions in the CFTA are specific to how goods, services and construction are to be procured.  For those acquisitions where the CFTA applies, direct awards can only be made under specific circumstances (see Direct Awards) and competitive solicitations must be nationally advertised (this requirement is met when posting opportunities on the BC Bid website).  In addition, submissions from non-BC vendors are to be treated the same as those from BC vendors (i.e. there can be no local preference).

What is the New West Partnership Trade Agreement?

The New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA) came into effect July 1, 2010 and replaces much of the Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), although TILMA continues to exist. It is an accord between the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba that aims to create a barrier-free, inter-provincial market.

The NWPTA requires the Province and broader public sector entities to remove impediments across all economic sectors and, subject to identified exceptions and legitimate objectives such as protection of the environment, ensures:

  • No obstacles: government measures such as standards and regulations cannot restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility between or among the three provinces; and
  • Non-discrimination: no preferential treatment of a province’s people, investments, goods or services, except for justified actual cost-of-service differences.

What is the World Trade Organization - Government Procurement Agreement?

Canada is a signatory to the World Trade Organization – Agreement on Government Procurement (WTO-GPA), which is intended to mutually open government procurement markets amongst the participants.  The Province is subject to the provisions of the WTO-GPA through an agreement between the Province and the government of Canada. The WTO-GPA establishes rules requiring open, fair and transparent conditions of competition.

The foundation of the Canada-United States Procurement Agreement (CUSPA) is the WTO-GPA.

What is the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement?

The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a trade agreement between Canada and the European Union aimed at eliminating and reducing tariffs, facilitating customs and trade, ensuring non-discriminatory market access, fostering regulatory cooperation, creating conformity assessments for product testing and certification, allowing labour mobility, and opening up markets for government procurement activities.  The CETA entered into force provisionally on September 21, 2017.

What is the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership?

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a free trade agreement between Canada and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The agreement aims to provide increased market access, lower trade barriers and provide for enhanced regulatory cooperation between the countries. Once fully implemented, the 11 countries will form a trading bloc representing 495 million consumers and 13.5% of global GDP, providing Canada with preferential access to key markets in Asia and Latin America.

On December 30, 2018 the CPTPP entered into force among the first six countries to ratify the agreement – Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore. On January 14, 2019, the CPTPP entered into force for Vietnam.

The CPTPP contains many procurement provisions similar to Canada’s other international trade agreement obligations related to non-discrimination, fairness, openness and transparency. Unless otherwise specified in the CPTPP, its procurement obligations apply to the Province of British Columbia, and the ministries, boards, commissions, agencies and committees of the Province. 

Dollar Thresholds of the Trade Agreements

Trade agreements include dollar thresholds where each would apply.  Refer to Posting Threshold Guidelines for more information. 

If unsure whether or not the trade agreements apply, assume they do or contact the ministry's Procurement Specialist, the Procurement Governance Office, Procurement Services, Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness or Legal Services.


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