Skip to content

Big stakes in the Canada-European Union CETA talks

The Canadian Press reports that, “It may well be the biggest and most important trade negotiation that most Canadians have never heard of.”

“But if you listen to the critics, what is at stake is in some ways more troubling than the Canada-U.S. free trade talks of the late 1980s – over which an election was fought – or the NAFTA deal that followed.”

Even federal Trade Minister Peter van Loan says, “What we want is the most ambitious trade agreement we’ve ever had. We’re looking for something that is deeper and broader than even NAFTA, and this is with the world’s largest economy.”

“The talks involve practically everything it is possible for the two sides to put on the table – not just the usual stuff of tariffs and duties, but services, investment, agricultural subsidies, government procurement at the national and subnational levels, intellectual property, regulatory rules and labour mobility.”

“Scott Sinclair says the talks are not so much about freeing up trade, noting that tariffs on the more heavily traded items are already under three per cent, but about weakening the ability of governments on both sides of the Atlantic to regulate how multinationals operate.”

“The Europeans, he says, want to do away with Canada’s supply management system in dairy and poultry, along with the Wheat Board and the ability of provincial and municipal governments to favour local suppliers in their procurements. One big prize Europe covets is Ontario’s green technology initiative, he says. In return, he believes, Canada would get to send more raw materials to Europe.”

“Canada also wants access to European agriculture, in particular ending barriers to genetically modified foods.”

“The two sides are now in the third round of talks, with two more planned. If all goes well, Van Loan hopes to see ink on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA by late next year.”

“Stuart Trew, a trade specialist with the Council of Canadians, says criticism from civil society groups and labour will become louder and more intense as more Canadians learn what they could lose. He and Sinclair believe a deal will significantly erode the ability of Canadian governments to make decisions based on domestic needs for jobs and environmental protection, and with few gains to show for it.”

“‘Over the next few months you are going to see quite a few groups coming out over various issues,’ Trew said.”

The full article is at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/breakingnews/big-stakes-in-canada-europe-trade-talks-but-little-attention-92127474.html.