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NEWS: Trew says Harper giving away too much to get CETA signed

The Canadian Press reports, “Stuart Trew of the Council of Canadians, which opposes the Canada-EU deal, says Ottawa is preparing to give away too much, particularly in the area of government procurement, for too little gain. He says he is especially concerned that even if beef producers win all they want on the quota front, it will be at best a temporary gain since U.S. farmers will begin squeezing out Canadian producers once the U.S.-EU trade deal is concluded. ‘This is trading temporary private-sector profits for public-sector costs in transit and drugs’, he said.”

Examples of Harper’s give-aways to get CETA signed:

1- “Sources say Canadian negotiators have agreed to a provision to raise the threshold for reviewing foreign acquisitions from Europe to $1.5 billion. All acquisitions under that value would not be subject to a government assessment about whether they create a net benefit for Canada. Just this Monday, the House of Commons passed the budget implementation bill raising the threshold from the current $334 million to $1 billion over the next four years.”

2- “Europe has apparently gained ground on investor protection dispute settlement rules, meaning the deal calls for few restrictions on the ability of European firms to sue Canadian governments for policies judged unfair to investors.”

3- “The current state of the talks has Canada giving Europeans more market access in protected sectors such as telecommunications, which has restrictions on foreign ownership, as well as uranium mining, postal services and insurance.”

4- “Canada has also significantly moved to appease European demands for opening up provincial energy utilities, again affecting mostly those in Ontario and Quebec, in procurement of goods and services.”

5- “Canada has also agreed to open up parts of its hydro-electric sector to a limited amount of foreign investment.”

Issues still at play:

1- “A major sticking point is Europe’s unwillingness to open up its market to beef imports, particularly problematic because Canadians (demand) a big enough entry — believed to be 40,000 tonnes annually at a minimum — to justify converting production to hormone and antibiotic free beef as required by EU restrictions.”

2- “Also still on the table is whether Canadian provinces — particularly Ontario and Quebec — will be able to have a set-aside for local suppliers on urban transit projects. Europe wants local preferences eliminated, but is meeting resistance from Canada’s two biggest provinces.”

3- “Despite agreement to liberalize about 92 per cent of all agricultural tariff lines, there still has been no final resolution on the sensitive issue of supply management in dairy, poultry and eggs.”

4- “The two sides have moved closer on intellectual property, although the pharmaceutical copyright issue that increases drug costs in Canada has not been completely closed.”

5- “Sources say that rules-of-origin concerns about autos exported to the EU – Canadian versus U.S. content in these vehicles – remain unresolved.” (This is from a Globe and Mail article.)

According to the Canadian Press report, while the Harper government has downplayed speculation that CETA will be signed by the G8 summit this coming June 17-18, Canadian negotiators are still in Brussels and are expected to continue talking at least throughout the week.

For more, please read:
UPDATE: Council to leaflet outside the FCM in Vancouver
NEWS: Provincial concerns stalling CETA
NEWS: CETA talks reportedly down to beef exports to Europe