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Harper designates “foreign trade zones” in Alberta

Edmonton Airport

The Edmonton International Airport and other locations in Alberta have been designated as foreign trade zones by the Harper government.

The Council of Canadians is looking into the implications of the Harper government establishing foreign trade zones in Edmonton and Calgary.

The Edmonton Journal reports, “The Edmonton International Airport has been designated as a foreign trade zone, the federal government announced Tuesday. …A FTZ is a strategic location identified for international trade and foreign direct investment, supported by the federal government, acting as a single point of access to information on relevant government policies and programs. …Edmonton International Airport president Tom Ruth said the zone will increase the airport’s ability to ‘integrate transportation assets with major sectors such as energy, manufacturing, agriculture and health sciences’.”

And the Calgary Herald reports, “The Calgary region has been designated a foreign trade zone — one of only three in the country — under a federal program designed to provide businesses faster and more efficient access to markets in Western Canada. The foreign trade zone allows for a ‘single-window’ point of access for all information on relevant government policies for businesses wanting to establish their enterprises in those areas. …Western Economic Diversification Canada said the Calgary Region Inland Port and Port Alberta, which serves the Edmonton region, will assist in leveraging the province’s role as a hub for international transportation, manufacturing, and distribution.”

In June 2012, the Council of Canadians organized public forums in Vancouver and Ladner to raise concerns about proposed foreign trade zones at the Port of Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport. At that time, Delta-Richmond chapter activist Cathy Wilander commented, “Foreign trade zones are also referred to as free trade zones or economic trade zones in other places. Governments section off land to create special investment climates for business and industry. What this usually means is the opportunity to do business without environmental and social policies/labour regulations to restrict corporations and business.”

Further reading
Grewal on foreign trade zone proposal in British Columbia (May 2011 blog)
Council of Canadians to hold public forums on foreign trade zones in BC (June 2011 blog)
Delta free trade zone report not available to MLAs (October 2011 blog)
Delta-Richmond chapter raises concerns about foreign trade zone (December 2011 blog)
Fast reviewing Delta foreign trade zone report (January 2012 blog)
Harper government to develop ‘foreign trade zone’ policy (February 2012 blog)