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NEWS: Canada-EU talks face delay with ‘negative’ list decision

Postmedia News reports this afternoon that, “The Canada-European Union free trade talks have hit another snag due to the continued reluctance of some EU member states to negotiate a wide-ranging agreement to liberalize trade in services. The delay is raising questions about whether the tabling of formal offers, which was supposed to take place last week in Brussels but was then rescheduled for the next round of negotiations in Ottawa in April, could be hit with further complications.”

The debate has been between the use of a ‘negative’ or ‘positive’ list. The article explains that, “Canada is pushing for a ‘negative’ list, which means that all services will be liberalized except those specifically identified. …Europe has always used a ‘positive’ list in which all sectors and sub-sectors being liberalized are spelled out in the agreement.”

“A spokesman for the Council of Canadians, a lobby group critical of Canada’s free trade agenda, said European’s position could ultimately be good for Canadian interests. Stuart Trew said the negative list approach is intended to put pressure on Canadian provincial governments to open up sensitive areas, like water services, to European competition.”

“Jason Langrish, executive director of the Canada Europe Roundtable for Business lobby group, …fears Europe’s hesitation will give more time for Canadian provincial governments to ‘reconsider their offers in other areas’…”

A fuller explanation of this issue can be found in a recent Embassy magazine article at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=5993. The Postmedia News article is at http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Europeans+oppose+negative+list+approach+trade/4163836/story.html.