. "Le ministre Van Loan a annoncé le début de la sixième ronde de négociations commerciales avec l’Union européenne en vue de conclure un accord économique et commercial global."
Just wanted to give a little background on this since it's rare that we see discussion of it in the Canadian media except for some of the more esoteric aspects. Please do feel free to skip over this. Also, please feel free to correct any errors of mine, as I am not an expert.
As some folks know, over the past few years Canada has finalized or begun negotiations on a series of FTAs around the world. Last I heard, during our time with Harper alone we have seen the completion of FTAs with nine or so nations, most of them not major trading partners but which we are likely to see our trade increase with as a result.
The CETA, a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, was first brought forth to the EU from Canada from our trade minister Stockwell Day in June, 2009. Since then, frequent discussions have occurred towards attaining a CETA for Canadian-UN relations, but has hit some snags, such as the Canadian requirement for Czech citizens to have a VISA and the EU ban on seal goods. This will be the sixth round of negotiations between Canada and EU officials towards the creation of a CETA.
There have also been protests regarding the potential for expansion of the tar sands should this go through
. Some folks claim that this would be damaging on a climate point of view, and that this is a driving reason the Conservative Party is for it (which I personally disagree with, since that's quite the assumption). Other concerns exist about the potential for the privatization of Canada's water supply. There are also concerns that this would cause complications due to restrictions already existing in NAFTA, although I do not know much about this. However, these problems do not appear to have featured majorly into negotiations at this point and appear to be peripheral issues to both parties at the negotiation table, and I am unsure about the prevalence of these problems in this case and if these are offset by the potential positives, which I personally believe they are (but am open to hearing otherwise, since I certainly am not expert).
However, this would move us away from dependency on the States, and the resulting impact they have on our economy depending on the status of theirs. This would expand our second largest trading partner, the EU, to a greater portion of Canada's incoming and outgoing trade, if we are able to sign a deal with this 27 country bloc. As a resource driven economy, we do have the ability to more ably move our exports to other nations. In addition, it would open Canada to additional investment, and the EU is already heavily invested in Canada as a nation. Currently, we stand as the EU's 11th largest trading partner, and they are out second with a share of over 10% of our trade.
As stated from the Canadian government website
(EU trade commission for Canadian trade relations
) on the topic, "The study shows there are important benefits for both sides to pursuing a closer economic partnership. An agreement could benefit many sectors of the Canadian economy, including aerospace, chemicals, plastics, aluminum, wood products, fish and seafood, automotive vehicles and parts, agricultural products, transportation, financial services, renewable energy, information and communication technologies, engineering and computer services, among others. The study also shows potential for enhancing the relationship in areas such as investment, labour mobility, regulatory cooperation, environment, and science and technology."
Canada already is connected to several European nations through EFTA
, which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. For those that were involved in the deep water port discussion between Canada and CARICOM and who are interested in our current relationship, we will begin negotiations for a Canadian-CARICOM FTA following the end of the negotiations for a Canada-Central America FTA (with the CA4, as we have one already with Costa Rica). A current list of all diplomatic trade relations can be found here
Various bodies, including CERT (which has some fairly well known officials on it) and some provincial bodies have tossed their support behind the expansion of free trade between Canada and the EU. One of the most prominent figures in Canada moving for this was Premier Charest out of Quebec, who campaigned loudly for this to go through alongside the Canadian Federal Government.
Optimistic plans are to conclude this before 2011 ends. If this goes through, it will be the biggest deal Canada has been involved in for over 15 years.