Skip to content

Canada-EU trade negotiations start May 6

The Canwest News Service reports this morning that, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be in Prague next week (on May 6) to launch Canada-European Union free trade in the midst of growing transatlantic tensions over Canada’s seal hunt. Members of the European Parliament are expected to vote Tuesday in favour of a law banning seal product imports.”
“While most Canada-EU trade tariffs are low or non-existent, some still exist that will be the target for removal in talks, such as charges for trade in certain industrial products, primary metals, chemical products, transportation equipment, metals and transport equipment, according to Canadian officials. Canada also wants to ease the ability for professionals, such as architects and doctors, to cross the Atlantic to work, as well as remove regulatory requirements that act as non-tariff trade barriers.”

“A joint Canada-EU study last year initially concluded that $36 billion in annual economic activity would be generated by 2014 if a deal is struck, with $15 billion of that amount going to Canada…That estimate was later downgraded in the final report to $32 billion overall and $13 billion for Canada.”

“Canadian officials said there’s no specific target date for concluding the negotiations.”

The Globe and Mail reports today that, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads to Prague next week for a summit with EU leaders – one day after a scheduled European Parliament vote on the ban on seal products – where he will both criticize the Europeans on their seal hunt policy and press for a speedy conclusion to coming free-trade talks.”

“Europe…wants equal access to bid on provincial and municipal government contracts. EU countries insisted that Canadian provinces express a willingness to negotiate, and all except Newfoundland – also the most affected by a seal product ban – have agreed to back the talks.”

To read CUPE researcher Blair Redlin’s excellent critique ‘Just what we don’t need: An investor rights deal with the EU’, please go to http://www.bilaterals.org/article-print.php3?id_article=14847.

In part, he writes, “Formal negotiations between Canada and the EU will begin May 6 at a Canada/EU Summit in Prague. If a new economic deal is concluded between Canada and the EU, there will be serious implications for Canadian relations with the United States and Mexico. That is because the NAFTA includes a ‘most favored nation’ clause within its chapter on investment and services. Article 1103 of the NAFTA specifies that each NAFTA country shall provide ‘treatment no less favorable’ to another NAFTA party that it provides to any other party. What that means in plain language is a real possibility that any concessions Canada provides to the Europeans will have to be provided to the U.S. and Mexico as well. If we give European water or health companies preferential access to our provincial services, we may well have to offer the same access to U.S. and Mexican companies.”