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Resistance grows to EU-Canada trade deal
European Voice | 11 Oct 2012
Resistance grows to EU-Canada trade deal
By Andrew Gardner
Commission and Canadian government hoping for a deal as soon as possible.
Canadian trade negotiators will arrive in Brussels on Monday (15 October) amid an increasingly intense domestic debate about the value of the free-trade deal.
The Canadian government and the European Commission are both keen to complete talks this year on the comprehensive economic and trade agreement (CETA), whose liberalisation of services and removal of tariffs could, the Commission believes, be worth a combined €20 billion annually to the two economies.
A Canadian official said that “significant progress has been achieved across the board”, including on goods, services, investment and procurement.
The talks have received little attention in Europe, but critics in Canada are mounting a strong campaign. The focus on the agreement has been sharpened by the 25th anniversary of the North American free-trade agreement (NAFTA) and by ongoing US efforts to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-country trade deal that includes Canada. A recent poll suggested that just 33% of Canadians believe NAFTA has helped the economy.
Political uncertainty has also been created by the victory of the separatist-minded Parti Québécois in regional elections in September. The party’s trade minister, Jean-François Lisée, has said he is “moderately optimistic” that the Quebec government will sign up.
One outstanding issue is an EU clause compensating patent-holders for the time taken to gain market authorisation. Canadian producers of generic drugs claim that this would increase costs for Canadian taxpayers. This argument appears to have gained traction. A poll in September suggested that the public’s support for CETA dropped from 81% to 31% once it was suggested that health costs could rise.
More broadly, some opponents argue that Canada’s central government is using CETA to force liberalisation on provincial governments. They also say that some clauses could harm European taxpayers.
Stuart Trew of the Trade Justice Network said that investment rules – over which the EU gained competence through the Lisbon treaty – would make it easier for corporations “to sue European governments for public policies that purportedly breach corporate rights”.
He also said that a ‘negative-list’ approach to services – under which a service sector, unless named, is automatically covered by the agreement – opens the way for a liberalisation of public services.
That view was rejected by Jason Langrish of the transatlantic Canada-Europe Roundtable for Business, who said that this approach “will allow for inclusion of services that have not yet been invented”. The Commission argues that a ‘negative approach’ is more transparent.
Upcoming days of action
Oct to Nov: autumn of action against CETA in Europe incl. Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Netherland, Slovenia, Spain... - details
27-28 Oct: mobilisation in Brussels against CETA - contact
03-05 Nov: mobilisation in Brussels against TTIP - contact
4 Nov: Continental day for democracy and against FTAs & neoliberalism in Latin America - contact
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News from the movements
28-Oct-2016 People Over ProfitFTAs operate as extensions of the WTO resulting in decentralized and yet intensifying attacks against workers and peasants across the different global regions.
27-Oct-2016 El BoletínUna campaña invita a activistas de todo el mundo a participar en acciones contra los tratados.
27-Oct-2016 ITFGlobal trade union leaders meeting in Panama have united in condemnation of TiSA (the Trade in Services Agreement) and CETA (the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement), highlighting the risks that both trade agreements pose to jobs and job security.
27-Oct-2016 PSIOn 12 October, the closing day of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference in Fukuoka, around 250 delegates representing more than 70 PSI affiliates from 18 countries resolved to intensify the struggle against the ambitious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership under negotiation among 16 countries in the region.
20-Oct-2016 El DiarioHoy es un día clave en la defensa de la democracia tal y como la hemos entendido hasta ahora.
20-Oct-2016 Bangkok PostAccess to affordable medicine and farmers’ control over seeds could be undermined by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership being negotiated between Asean member countries and six other trade partners, says FTA Watch in Thailand
20-Oct-2016 CEOA close look at the controversial EU-Canada trade deal shows that concerns blocking its ratification are well-founded.
19-Oct-2016 Telesur“We don’t want what happened to us to happen to the people in Dakota,” Piaguaje told teleSUR.
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