11 June 2009
Canada, EU launch free trade talks
MONTREAL (AFP) - Canadian International Trade Minister Stockwell Day and European Union Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton formally launched Canada-EU free trade talks on Wednesday.
"This first meeting (between the two officials) represents a solid step toward a historic economic agreement with the world?s largest market," Day said in a statement.
"We come to the table prepared to discuss all subjects of interest to either of us," commented Ashton.
"There will be difficult issues, but we are convinced that the ultimate prize justifies the effort as we seek to trade our way out of the economic downturn," she said.
Canada and the European Union announced in May their intentions to sign a broad trade agreement within two years.
Wednesday’s first meeting of their top trade officials, Day and Ashton, on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum of the Americas was organized to brief them on the progress achieved to date by their chief negotiators.
The European Union is Canada?s second-largest export market, after the United States.
In 2008, two-way trade in goods and services between Canada and the EU totaled 114.6 billion dollars, up 6.2 percent from 2007.
Canada-EU free trade in aerospace, chemicals, wood products, automotive vehicles and parts, agricultural products, transportation and other sectors is forecast to increase trade by about 20 percent.