In March 2009, after years of speculation and discussions, Stockwell Day, Canada’s international trade minister, signalled the formal start of negotiations towards a comprehensive free trade agreement with Canada’s second largest economic partner, the European Union. Initial areas of negotiation include trade in goods, intellectual property, investment, technical barriers to trade, regulatory cooperation and, competition policy. There has also been talk of and an eventual agreement on labour mobility. The FTA is called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
The reception to a proposed deal among Canada’s provincial governments has been mixed. Quebec Premier Jean Charest has been a strong advocate of an EU-Canada FTA, while former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams vocally expressed his opposition to such a deal, citing concerns in areas such as high seafood tariffs and the proposed EU seal products ban. Indeed, until recently the federal government had seemed somewhat cautious about the idea, while some in Europe have not held an FTA with Canada to be a priority. The Toronto-based lobby group, the Canada Europe Roundtable for Business, supported by 60 European and Canadian corporate executives, have been pushing for this deal, for which its most vocal supporters in Europe have been France’s Sarkozy and Germany’s Merkel. A number of municipal councils in Canada, including Toronto/s city council have voted to demand that they be excluded from such a deal, citing concerns over their ability to make decisions, particularly in relation to government procurement.
last update: May 2012
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