Procurement
May 7, 2012

Combined market: Western provinces remove business barriers

The New West Partnership (NWP), signed in April 2010 between British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, cements the West as an economic powerhouse. 

The NWP, an historic agreement that creates an opportunity-rich operating environment for businesses, has four components:

  • A comprehensive economic agreement that will remove barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility, further enhancing the competitiveness of Canada’s three western provinces;
  • An international cooperation agreement that will see the three provinces cooperate on trade and investment missions to international markets, and share foreign market intelligence to advance joint interests and increase business competitiveness; 
  • An innovation agreement, which will enable provincial innovation efforts to be coordinated to better attract investment and talent, helping build critical mass of innovation activities in the West; and,  
  • A procurement agreement that will enable the provinces to capitalize on their combined buying power through the joint procurement of goods and services.

“Removing barriers to business and working in cooperation with British Columbia and Alberta is good for everyone,” said Dylan Jones, Saskatchewan’s deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs. “And an important benefit of the NWP is opening access to government procurement.”

Collectively, the three governments buy some $8 billion in goods, services and construction annually. A primary goal of the NWP is to open procurement at all levels, which includes municipalities, schools, hospitals and Crown corporations, and it contains a schedule on government procurement of goods and services. Efficiencies and savings should be realized by combining the common requirements of all three governments.

The NWP establishes a level playing field for businesses, enabling seamless regulations to reduce red tape, saving businesses money and making them more competitive. Companies will benefit from the removal of labour mobility barriers, making it easier for companies to find workers and for workers to find work. Strict and enforceable subsidy rules will ensure that competing businesses will not receive unfair advantages. Transportation costs will be reduced from the elimination of the requirement to re-register for temporary travel. In the long run, increased investment attraction in the combined market of the three provinces will lead to greater opportunities for many industries.

The NWP presents an opportunity for the three governments to harness their purchasing power and achieve savings and efficiencies when buying the things government needs to buy – potentially items ranging from health supplies to educational materials to the office supplies and paper needed in the daily operation of governments.

“The bottom line is that Saskatchewan businesses, too, will gain unimpeded access to procurement opportunities in Alberta’s and British Columbia’s markets – actually in one huge, barrier-free market,” Jones said.

The NWP makes it easier for business to access government procurement with lower-dollar-value contracts being opened up for competition in all three provinces. Jones adds that it’s also easier to find out about these tenders because opportunities from the entire public service will be posted in one place, SaskTenders (www.sasktenders.gov.sk.ca), and Saskatchewan businesses will be on a level playing field with suppliers from Alberta and B.C. in those much larger procurement markets.

“It’s something of a quantum leap for market expansion and business opportunity throughout western Canada. The key is to implement it in an open and efficient manner, and I’m very happy to say that this is happening.”

The big thinking behind the NWP is strengthening and promoting the region in an increasingly competitive global economy by enabling the three provinces to work together as one entity – a region with a population of nine million people and a combined Gross Domestic Product of almost $500 billion.

Saskatchewan and its western neighbours are united in the call to eliminate trade barriers regionally and nationally. The NWP represents this strong commitment by exploring opportunities through international marketing, joining forces on innovative projects and capitalizing on their combined strength as a buyer through joint procurement.

“The NWP is a shift from a segmented, multi-jurisdictional business and investment environment to a model based on a single, seamless regulatory regime that is non-discriminatory,” says Jones. “The end result we are seeing is more efficient business operations, which pays an even bigger dividend, making western Canada an even more attractive place to invest and build new business.”

For information on the New West Partnership, please see www.newwestpartnership.ca.

 

J. Robert Shanks is a Regina-based writer in the Communications Branch for Enterprise Saskatchewan.

 

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