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UPDATE: The current status of CETA negotiations

Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew wrote in his blogs this past July that, “Reuters is reporting that free trade negotiations between Canada and the EU are stalled on issues of public procurement, services and investment, and that because of the wide distances between Canadian and EU positions, it is unlikely CETA can be concluded by the end of 2011 as the Harper government and European Commission had hoped.”

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT: Trew notes that on July 14 “offers were exchanged on procurement” but there is still “disagreement over how far Canada will go in allowing European bids for public contracts.” He writes, “Canadian provinces wanted to make sure they were getting something out of the EU market before they sacrificed forever local preferences in public contracts — the EU’s top priority in Canada.” Trew conjectures that, “the EU is dissatisfied with provincial offers on procurement, which, according to Canada’s lead negotiator Steve Verheul, will exclude hydro utilities and transit — both major priorities for European firms wanting hoping to collect a bigger portion of the $100-200 billion in sub-federal government contracts dished out annually.”

SERVICES: Trew says, “We found growing concerns in the EU that CETA will go too far by including services often delivered in the public sector (drinking water, health care, postal services, transit, energy, education, etc)…” And he notes that the 60 Members of the European Parliament that the Trade Justice Network met with this summer “agreed with us that there was strong cause for concern” given “CETA’s potentially reduced definition of what constitutes a ‘public’ service.”

INVESTMENT: Trew notes, “the EU decision makers we met with do not like the idea of a NAFTA-style investor-state dispute settlement process. It was nearly unanimous.” He also highlights that according to Reuters, EU member states have “taken longer than expected to agree what guarantees a pact should offer for Canadian investments in Europe and European investments in Canada, particularly in the energy and mining sectors.” Trew adds that “(EU) delays (here) might also imply concerns with how public services or other public health and environmental policies would be affected by new investment protections…(by protecting privatization in these areas with strong investment guarantees).”

The 9th round of CETA negotiations are scheduled to take place in Ottawa the week of October 17-21, and planning for a petition delivery, a public event with Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and CUPE president Paul Moist, the bringing over of MEP-opponents of CETA for this week, and more are already underway.

Trew’s blogs on the 8th round of talks can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9647 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9649.