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Trudeau to push CETA at G20 summit, provisional implementation could be delayed to 2018

Trudeau and UK prime Minister Theresa May.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be pushing for the provisional application of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) at the G20 summit this coming Friday and Saturday (July 7-8).

The G20 includes France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Toronto Star business columnist David Olive writes, “Trudeau will be pushing hard for ‘provisional’ implementation of the Canada-European Union (EU) trade deal at the G20 summit Friday and Saturday in Hamburg. Last week, brand-name drugs emerged as a second obstacle, after a dispute over allocation of Canadian cheese imports, to implementation of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), which was to have gone ahead July 1. Trudeau will urge his EU peers to get CETA into effect as soon as possible, and deal with outstanding issues later.”

He notes, “The brand-name drug makers want to see the details of Ottawa’s commitment to revoke ‘dual-track litigation’, by which Big Pharma sues generic drugmakers repeatedly over the same patent. Trudeau could point out that (a) the litigation commitment is not part of CETA, but a side deal, and (b) that the European wing of Big Pharma is largely concentrated in Switzerland and Britain. The first is not an EU member, and Britain soon won’t be.”

The CBC has reported, “The European pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want the EU to set a date to start implementing the deal until Canada publishes and consults on some regulatory changes promised to generic drug manufacturers, and some member states are expressing these concerns to the European Commission. Persistent legal confusion in Europe over whether the intellectual property measures affecting pharmaceutical patents can be applied without individual member countries’ ratification may also be prompting some to want to hit pause.”

That article adds, “Roughly one-quarter of Canada’s bill to implement CETA, C-30, dealt with changes to intellectual property rules for pharmaceuticals. But the end of dual-track litigation [a practice in which brand-name pharmaceutical companies can sue generics multiple times on the same patents] had been expected separately, in the form of new regulations published in the Canada Gazette. Those still aren’t public. …[The promise to end dual-track] was a separate pledge to placate the generic drug industry because other parts of the deal may benefit brand-name pharmaceuticals.”

Olive adds, “Trudeau’s hope of ‘crossing the finish line’ on CETA implementation at Hamburg is dimmed by an unusually crowded G20 agenda. Host leader Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, wants a focus of upholding the Paris climate-change accord in the aftermath of America’s withdrawal, and she’ll have French President Emmanuel Macron’s staunch support on that.”

There is speculation that the provisional application of CETA could now be delayed until sometime in 2018.

To be fully implemented (with its controversial investment court system provision), CETA must still be ratified in 38 national and regional parliaments in the European Union (where it faces an uphill battle) over the coming years.

Further reading
CETA implementation hits procurement, cheese quota & drug patent obstacles (July 3, 2017)