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NEWS: Trew warns of concessions being made for Canada-EU free trade deal

Postmedia News reports, “The federal government’s plans to complete negotiations this year on the Canada-European Union free trade deal appear to have hit a hefty roadblock. …Some observers believe the federal government is throwing a number of thorny issues on the table – such as intellectual property protection, municipal procurement, and supply managed dairy and poultry sectors – in exchange for greater access for Canadian agricultural producers (of beef, pork and wheat to the European market).”

“(The Harper government) would like tariff-free access to the EU market for beef, pork and other agricultural products, he said. At the very least, producers and provinces believe a significant increase is needed in the amount of product that can be shipped before tariffs apply. In return, Europe is looking for improved access to Canada’s supply managed dairy and poultry sectors, stronger intellectual property protection, and greater opportunity to bid on municipal and regional procurement contracts.”

“Parliamentarians have been warned by some groups that signing the free-trade agreement could cost the country`s health system billions of dollars more each year in pharmaceutical bills and delay access to cheaper generic drugs, due to CETA provisions on intellectual property. Also, dozens of cities and towns – including major centres in Ontario such as Toronto, Mississauga and Hamilton – have passed motions highlighting their concerns over CETA, with many asking for permanent exemptions. Most of the communities are worried that provisions in the agreement will restrict their decision-making capabilities and possibly limit their ability to adopt ‘buy local’ procurement policies.”

“The Council of Canadians, a national citizens group helping lead the fight against parts of CETA, said its worry is Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government will sacrifice a number of Canadian interests simply to get greater access for agricultural producers. ‘Harper is putting everything on this beef access,’ said Stuart Trew, a trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians. The Conservatives must deliver additional market access for agricultural producers, otherwise the federal government will have difficulty selling the deal to western provinces, he argued. ‘We’re basically going to be making all these concessions based on one industry important to the Harper government,’ Trew said.”

For more on our campaign against the Canada-European Union free trade deal, please see http://canadians.org/ceta.