WINNIPEG – Provinces in the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA) have agreed on a single method of solving procurement disputes.
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba agreed that the changes will provide suppliers with a more efficient and timely way to resolve procurement concerns.
“The agreement establishes a single dispute resolution procedure for procurement under multiple trade agreements, simplifying the process for suppliers,” said Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen in a news release. “The New West Partnership Trade Agreement works to reduce trade barriers and support a thriving interprovincial market. This new, more efficient process will help to streamline trade in the western provinces.”
The agreement falls in line with precedent from other major trade agreements, including the Canadian Free Trade Agreement and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, as well as the World Trade Organization, which all require a procurement dispute review procedure.
The dispute resolution procedure, called a bid protest mechanism, applies to any trade agreement and allows provinces to meet their obligations under all domestic and international trade agreements.
“Canada’s western provinces are united in the goal to see continued economic growth throughout the region,” said Saskatchewan Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison. “By expanding the bid protest mechanism to cover other domestic and international trade agreements, we are creating an efficient, consistent and simplified process for suppliers and parties to the NWPTA to address and resolve procurement issues in the region.”
The new mechanism empowers a supplier to begin consultations about a specific procurement covered by domestic and international trade agreements.
If that process is fruitless, an arbiter will be selected to adjudicate the matter based on written submissions provided by the supplier and the procuring entity.
The NWPTA went into effect in 2010 and was fully implemented in 2013. It created Canada’s largest barrier-free interprovincial market.
Provinces in the partnership have at times been at odds. In late 2017, Saskatchewan officials announced that vehicles with Alberta license plates were no longer welcome at Saskatchewan highway and infrastructure projects after claiming Saskatchewan contractors had faced similar treatment in Alberta. The ban ended last year.