The Council of Canadians, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and the National Farmers Union lobby Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France to reject that Canada-European Union free trade agreement, January 2011.
Postmedia News reports, “The federal government appears only weeks away from completing negotiations on a Canada-European Union free-trade agreement… Indeed, representatives from a Canada-EU economic roundtable and trade lawyers following the talks also believe the negotiations will be completed within weeks, likely by February, but possibly even this month. …Once negotiations are completed, both sides would conduct a legal review of the text and hold ratification votes – including in the House of Commons and Senate in Canada – a process that would likely take at least a few months.”
“The agreement would give Canadian companies preferential access to an EU market of 500 million consumers in 27 member states. The federal government is still fighting for greater market access into Europe for beef, pork and other agricultural producers, as well as for Canadian automobile manufacturers. …In return, trade specialists believe the federal government will agree to stronger intellectual-property protection – which would likely drive up the costs on such things as pharmaceutical drugs due to longer patent protection – and partially open up Canada’s supply-managed dairy sector, which features tariffs of 200 to 300 per cent on imports. …Europe is also demanding greater ability to bid on government construction projects and service contracts within Canada – a key concern to major cities such as Ontario’s Toronto, Mississauga and Hamilton, which have asked for exemptions from the deal.
Also, rules of origin – which establish the minimum amount of production that must occur in Canada or the EU for an exported product to receive preferential tariffs – continue to be a thorny issue, especially with Canada having a deeply integrated economy with the United States.”
“Jason Langrish, executive director of the Canada Europe Roundtable for Business, believes the agreement will likely be completed before the end of February. He figures the government must complete the negotiations by March at the very latest to ensure the agreement can get on the docket for the Council of the EU and the European Parliament to ratify the agreement sometime this year, before EU elections in spring 2014. In Canada, the provincial NDP in British Columbia is widely expected to take power in that province’s May election, and could be less receptive to certain components of the trade deal, he said.”
As we have noted in previous campaign blogs, the official signing is supposed to occur at a special Canada-EU summit to take place somewhere in Canada that has not yet been announced. Once signed, the ratification process could take another year or more, putting our deadline to stop the deal sometime in 2014 or even early-2015. The European Parliament elections that Langrish is worried about take place June 5-8, 2014, so it is quite possible that even if CETA is signed this month, it might not be ratified by the current European Parliament and may face additional delays in that body.
The Council of Canadians is campaigning against the Canada-EU free trade agreement (and has been instrumental in securing the calls from municipalities to be exempted from the deal as noted above), for our commentary please see http://canadians.org/ceta. The Postmedia News article is at http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/Canada+closing+free+trade+pact+with/7836313/story.html.