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Thursday, September 18, 2008

O Canada! O Europe! What is cooking on the comprehensive trade front? 

While the USA seems to be talking itself into all sorts of protectionist corners with its various brands of election rhetoric, a different tune seems to be coming up in the True North.

The possibility of a comprehensive pact between Canada and the EU is in the air, with an economic summit planned for 17 October (three days after polling in the upcoming Canadian General Election).

The proposed pact would far exceed the scope of older agreements such as NAFTA by encompassing not only unrestricted trade in goods, services and investment and the removal of tariffs, but also the free movement of skilled people and an open market in government services and procurement… (Globe and Mail 18 September)

That suggests Europeans could take up employment in Canada without having to go through the Landed Immigrant points procedure (and conversely that Canadians could work throughout Europe). It also implies a huge increase in trade between Europe and Canada. If the US goes protectionist it may find itself out in the cold.

While this plan seems to have the strong support of the defending Tory minority government in Ottawa, it is backstage reporting as far as the current election campaign is concerned.

Because of the election, Mr. Harper appears to have decided not to unveil a full text of the proposed agreement, but instead to use the summit to inaugurate the trade talks with the launch of a “scoping exercise” that will quickly set the goals of the pact and lead to formal
“comprehensive trade and investment negotiations” to begin in “early 2009,” according to communications between senior Canadian and European officials examined by The Globe and Mail.

Haven’t seen the Liberal party of Canada position on this as yet…

But wouldn’t it be nice to get some discussion of this in European countries? What for example do our LibDem MEPs think about this idea and what do our MEP candidates make of it? There are apparently documents within the European Commission which are not in the public domain and yet the issue affects us greatly…

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