The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said yesterday it plans to start substantive discussions in June with four of Canada’s 13 regulators to make it easier for banks, brokers and exchanges to operate in both countries.

The SEC said it hopes to finish a process agreement in mid-June that would then open the way for discussions of a potential U.S.-Canada mutual recognition arrangement.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has pushed for what he calls “free trade in securities” within the Group of Seven industrialized nations and said he had hoped for a deal with the SEC even sooner.

But he said Canada has a long way to go before being able to secure such an agreement because of its patchwork of 13 provincial and territorial securities regulators.