Re: "Provincial trade barriers? What provincial trade barriers?" (The Hill Times, Jan. 28, p. 21). In Murray Dobbin´s opinion editorial, he states that "there are virtually no substantive trade barriers between the provinces," and that the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between Alberta and British Columbia is a "tool for far-reaching, business-initiated, deregulation at the provincial and municipal levels." Fact is that inter-provincial trade barriers do exist. They are significant obstacles to Canada´s economic prosperity that in some cases, would be illegal between countries in Europe. While inter-provincial trade barriers are not as direct and quantifiable as common international trade barriers such as tariffs, Canadian Chamber of Commerce members tell us that these non-tariff barriers to trade create an unequal playing field that impedes company operations and growth. The Canadian Chamber´s widely-cited 2004 report illustrated that the most common inter-provincial trade barrier was regulatory differences between federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions. For larger firms, regulatory compliance was an added cost to doing business. Professional service providers, including engineers and architects, reported lengthy and burdensome processes seeking licenses in other provinces. For small businesses, the regulatory burden was cited as a factor for not expanding their operations into other provinces and territories. The disproportionate impact on small- and medium-sized businesses, representing 95 per cent of the total businesses in Canada and employing about 65 per cent of the Canadian workforce, is especially worrisome. Finally, a number of our members encountered procurement practices favouring local businesses over out of province companies. A 2007 report by the Canadian Bankers Association found that Canada´s multiple securities regulators had a substantially negative impact on all Canadian firms´ attempts to raise capital–yet another disproportionate burden falling on small and medium-sized businesses. International organizations, such as the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Monetary Fund, have also pointed out Canada´s fragmented domestic market. The OECD calls for Canada to "...dismantle remaining barriers to inter-provincial trade, including the regulation of professional services." Both the OECD and IMF recommend that Canada streamline its securities regulation. These validations are certainly not the result of "jumping on the bandwagon." The Government of Canada has also recognized the importance of this issue. In its Speech from the Throne, the government stated that inter-provincial barriers to trade "hurt our competitive position but, more importantly, it is just not the way a country should work." Removing inter-provincial trade barriers can give Canadian productivity and competitiveness a vitally-needed boost, leading to a more open and mobile Canada, which is crucial in the fast pace of the global economy. The Department of Finance recently estimated the cost of inter-provincial trade barriers to be approximately $3-billion annually, while Alberta´s Premier suggests the figure is closer to $14-billion a year. We need an open and competitive Canadian marketplace. Alberta and British Columbia have taken a huge step forward in creating an environment conducive to entrepreneurial development and attracting investment. The TILMA is an innovative agreement giving businesses and workers in both provinces seamless access to a larger range of opportunities across all sectors, including energy, transportation, labour mobility, business registration, and government procurement. The next step is to build on this momentum and begin establishing Canada as the most productive and competitive marketplace in the world. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO Canadian Chamber of Commerce Ottawa, Ont.