Restaurants industry welcomes New Canada Free Trade Agreement

April 13 2017

The new, more inclusive Canada Free Trade Agreement, announced last week, has been welcomed by the restaurant industry.

According to industry group Restaurants Canada, the previous agreement was too narrow and only referred to a few select sectors, but the new agreement has a broader remit and now includes most sectors.

However, there was a fly in the ointment in that beer, wine and spirits remain excluded, a point which continues to be the biggest internal trade barrier and significantly drives up costs for the restaurant industry.

Joyce Reynolds, Restaurants Canada’s executive vice president of government affairs, commented: “We appreciate that federal minister Navdeep Bains acknowledges the challenges restaurants face due to provincial alcohol monopolies.

“It makes no sense that restaurants have to pay more for a bottle of wine from a neighbouring province and have less selection than someone purchasing it from outside the country.”

Restaurants Canada says it is encouraged that a provincial working group has been established to make recommendations to liberalize alcohol trade in Canada before the end of 2017.

Ms Reynolds added: “We hope the provinces are truly committed to putting their protectionist approaches to alcohol aside, and will honour the intent of the CFTA (Continental Free Trade Area).

“At that time, restaurants will applaud this free trade agreement.”

Of the 351 Canadians licensees surveyed by Restaurants Canada in 2015, 72 per cent believed that the cost of beer, wine and spirits had dealt a negative impact on their business, while 82 per cent said their customers had complained about the high cost of alcoholic drinks.

Only three in ten of the licensees questioned said they received value from their local liquor or beer supplier, with almost every respondent (97 per cent) keen to see wholesale pricing in their province.