Canada’s business leaders welcome today’s announcement of an ambitious new intergovernmental agreement to promote trade and investment across provincial and territorial borders.

“The Canadian Free Trade Agreement will dismantle barriers that for decades have restricted the free movement of goods, services, investment and workers within Canada,” said The Honourable John Manley, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of Canada.

Founded in 1976, the Business Council is composed of the chief executives and entrepreneurs of 150 leading Canadian companies, in every region and sector.

One of the core principles behind the new agreement is that Canadian firms should have the same rights to sell across the country as do foreign companies in jurisdictions with which Canada has signed free trade agreements.

The agreement also commits provinces and territories to eliminating unnecessary regulatory differences, and creates a strong system of enforcement and penalties that will help ensure governments live up to their internal-trade obligations.

“At a time when governments and businesses across the country are pushing to open new foreign trade opportunities, it is vital that we recognize and protect the freedom of Canadians to do business in their own backyard,” Mr. Manley said.

“By giving companies access to larger markets both at home and abroad, governments create the conditions for economic growth, job creation and rising prosperity.”

Companies that sell across provincial boundaries tend to hire more workers and are more innovative than companies that do business only within a single province, according to a 2013 report by the federal department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED).

Such firms are also 10 times more likely to generate income from customers outside Canada and to operate with a global perspective. “For businesses to succeed internationally, it is important for them to first establish a stable and supportive market at home,” the ISED study concluded.

Mr. Manley congratulated The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, for his commitment to dismantling trade barriers in Canada. He also commended The Honourable Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Growth, for his leadership as Chair of the internal trade negotiations.

Collectively, the member companies of the Business Council of Canada employ 1.7 million Canadians, account for more than half the value of the Toronto Stock Exchange, contribute the largest share of federal corporate taxes, and are responsible for most of Canada’s exports, corporate philanthropy, and private-sector investments in research and development.

Through supply chain partnerships, service contracts and mentoring programs, Business Council members support many hundreds of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs in communities of all sizes across Canada.