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NEWS: Council of Canadians leaks CETA draft on financial services

Financial services are a continuing obstacle to the signing of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

The Globe and Mail reports, “Canada is resisting pressure from Europe to allow its financial institutions and investors to directly sue Ottawa for measures it might take to protect the stability of the financial system or market players, according to a leaked draft of the services and investment chapter of the deal obtained by the Council of Canadians.”

The Canadian Press explains, “The documents show Canada is taking a cautious approach, and will only allow a more open market if Canadian authorities can block business activity that would put the financial system at risk. …Canada wants to set up a special mechanism that would have governments resolve any disputes that arise from new forays into each other’s financial services sector. …That’s because the federal government speaks frequently about the strength of Canada’s financial services, boasting about the oversight that allowed Canada to avoid the worst of the global financial crisis that is still undermining Europe’s banks. …Canada’s caution is bumping up against an aggressive European drive for investor protections that have no strings attached.”

Yesterday, Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew commented, “Not only European but also U.S. and Mexican financial firms would be able to pick apart Canada’s prudential financial regulations if CETA is signed and ratified, which raises the risk level for all of us. …The possibility that CETA could undermine Canada’s world-famous banking and financial safeguards is just one more reason among dozens to say no to this deal.”

Financial services have been a point of contention for several years now. In December 2010, Postmedia News reported that the United Kingdom might find CETA “difficult to sell politically” with a financial services agreement that “implied an influx of foreign professionals” to Britain. France, Italy and Spain reportedly had similar concerns. And in June 2011, the Financial Post reported that the chief executive of the London Stock Exchange Group said CETA talks “could suffer” given there was “a significant financial services component” and Canadian banks were opposed to the merger of the LSE with the Toronto Stock Exchange.

News reports note that long after the deal was to be signed, financial services are just one of the numerous outstanding issues in the talks. Other unresolved issues include drug patents, beef, pork, procurement, investment and automobiles.

For more, please read:
Canada’s banking regulations under attack in EU trade deal
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UPDATE: The Council of Canadians campaign to stop bank mergers in 1998