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NEWS: 1/3 of CETA areas of negotiation to be completed by January

The Globe and Mail reports that, “Free-trade negotiations between Canada and the European Union are progressing but some difficult talks lie ahead – particularly around government procurement, intellectual property rights and labour mobility.”

“Four of 22 areas of negotiation are all but completed, another four should be wrapped up by January, and (the deal) could be finalized next year, Steve Verhuel, Canada’s chief trade negotiator, told members of the international trade committee Monday.”

“Government procurement and the ability of European firms to bid on publicly-funded projects in Canada remains one of the EU’s top priorities, he said, adding that resolving that issue will require co-operation of the provinces and territories.”

“There are sensitivities on both sides with respect to agriculture, autos, and fish, Mr. Verhuel said. There is also discussion taking place around regulatory co-operation, he said.”

“The EU has been pressing Canada on copyright protection and enforcement, patents, and the protection of so-called geographical indications – names that are restricted to products from specific regions like wine from Bordeaux.”

“It has also been urging Canada to increase the protections on drug patents, a move that could increase drug prices in this country.”

“In return, Canada is pressing the EU to go further in the area of labour mobility, Mr. Verhuel said, both to ease the temporary entry of business people and professionals and to obtain mutual recognition of qualifications.”

“Britain, he said, is particularly sensitive to demands that it open its doors to workers from other countries. This goes back to Polish plumber stories, Mr. Verhuel said. ‘When Poland joined the EU, there was concern that there would be a flood of Polish plumbers coming into the EU and elsewhere and taking all the plumbers’ jobs away.'”

“Members of the international trade committee will travel to Europe next week to discuss the pending deal with their EU counterparts.”

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