Canada and EU officially sign the trade agreement that could open-up the road to TTIP

José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister, participated in the EU/Canada Summit which was held in Ottawa. (from left to right) (EC Audiovisual Services, 26/09/2014)

José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister, participated in the EU/Canada Summit which was held in Ottawa. (from left to right) (EC Audiovisual Services, 26/09/2014)

Last Friday the European Union and Canada officially marked the end of five years of negotiations and talks: the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the two parts was signed. The agreement was presented by the outgoing Commission President Manuel Barroso, the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a joint news conference on Toronto’s Parliament Hill.

The conference closed a long negotiations process which started on May 6th 2009 at the Canada-EU Summit in Prague. The negotiations were formally concluded on August 1st 2014 when CETA was approved as the replacement of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), becoming Canada’s biggest cross-border deal. “It will not only change the game for Canadian businesses,” the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “it will create an entirely new game”.

The text of the deal, which is 1,600 pages long, was published on the EC’s trade website and will go through about nine months of legal examinations before being submitted to the bloc’s 28 national governments and the European Parliament for final approval. President Barroso indeed predicted the final pact would be signed next year, to make CETA begin in 2016. When fully operative, the CETA is expected to increase the two-way trade by 20 per cent, to 26 billion euros ($33 billion) a year, according to the European Commission.

The deal would put an end to 98 % of tariffs on EU-Canada goods trade at the outset, and 99 % after seven years (with NAFTA 29% of the then-existing tariffs were removed – source Financial Post). “Now we will be playing in the big leagues, Canada’s PM Harpers commented on Friday, while Barroso called the CETA “the most advanced agreement in the world today, when it comes to market integration”.

Despite the general optimism in Canada last Friday, many clouds loomed on the agreement the day before and the risk that the signing ceremony could have turned into another embarrassment for both sides was very high. Indeed it was when German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday that Berlin would reject the landmark trade pact in its current form, that pressure got quite high. The bone of contention lies in the pact’s “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” chapter of the Text.

The disputed ISDS clause would allow multinationals and private investors to put pressure on governments into weakening their laws on labour, data protection, food standards and the environment, if they feel local laws threatened their investments. “It is completely clear that we reject these investment protection agreements”, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told a German parliamentary debate on Thursday.

President Barroso minimized the question, saying that “until now all the official communications we have received from Germany were absolutely in favor of this agreement”, but it seems clear that the matter goes a bit deeper than the trade agreement’s architects are trying to show.

Actually the CETA is widely seen as a template for a larger pact between the EU and the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). That’s why many groups, including trade unions and consumer groups, say that having mechanisms such as the ISDS clause-related ones in the Canada deal would set a wrong precedent. Indeed Germany, in particular, is pressing for a contentious arbitration mechanism to be excluded from the CETA with a view on a final EU-US TTIP final agreement. Therefore Berlin and the other opponents want the CETA to be revised again.

According to the international press, Canada’s PM Stephen Harper said that it is “normal that signatories to the accord might seek minor changes after the deal is signed”, although many say that more likely the agreement will remain untouched. European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Thursday that the deal should not be modified again right now. “If we re-open negotiations on CETA, the deal will be dead” he said.

Following what could be one of the worst economic crises in the western countries’ history, the world’s biggest developed economies are now seeking ambitious trade deals to eliminate “walls”, create jobs and compete against China. This is what I guess we can see as the official response of these countries to the crisis, as it gunned down economies in a much heavier way than expected.

This way I believe that the road to have this kind of agreement revised once they have been “formally” approved might be quite long: none of the two parts, whether it was Canada or the US negotiating with the EU, would like to lose appeal. None of the part would like to show a lack of commitment in this delicate moment.

“We have an agreement, a good agreement”, Mr. Harper told the news conference. “We have all – and those we represent – committed to it and we will honour those commitments”.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This is how we can empower 8 billion minds by 2030

Why financial services can kickstart Africa’s digital economy

Chart of the day: The internet has a language diversity problem

With potential to boost profits by up to 20 per cent, a woman’s place is at work, says UN labour agency

The world wide web is 30. Here are 8 things you should know about it

Yemen: Security Council backs new mission in support of key port city truce

EU budget: Commission proposes major funding increase for stronger borders and migration

How Britain’s backyard bird feeders are shaping evolution

Back to the future: flying cars are becoming a reality

Dignified and non-discriminatory heath care: does anyone even know what it means?

In Tanzania, UN refugee chief praises ‘regional peacemaker’ role, and efforts to welcome neighbours on the run

Further reforms will promote a stronger and more inclusive Hungarian economy

Antitrust: Commission fines Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices to strengthen dominance of Google’s search engine

The European Commission and EU consumer authorities publish final assessment of dialogue with Volkswagen

UN News 2018 Recap: In Case You Missed It

This is why attractive cities do better economically

COVID19 Pandemic: The Mental Health of Colored Chicks

New Erasmus: more opportunities for disadvantaged youth

Six children among 53 confirmed fatalities after Libya detention centre airstrikes: Security Council condemns attack

Sustainable fishing staying afloat in developed world, sinking in poorer regions

‘We are facing a learning crisis’, UN chief warns on International Youth Day

EU growth in 2015 to be again sluggish; Can the Juncker Commission fight this out?

Why Microsoft is a regular to Almunia’s

Why the world needs systems leadership, not selfish leadership

Migration crisis update: The “Habsburg Empire” comes back to life while EU loses control

The price of centralization of human resources for health

“Working together to make a change at the COP 21 in Paris”, an article by Ambassador Yang of the Chinese Mission to EU

Germany is the world’s most innovative economy

OECD household income up 0.7% in first quarter of 2018, outpacing GDP growth

Technology is a force for peace and prosperity. Don’t let its challenges obscure this

A Sting Exclusive: “Digital and mobile technologies are helping to achieve an economic success in Spain”, the Spanish Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Society Víctor Calvo-Sotelo reveals to the Sting at Mobile World Congress 2015

The Brexit factor in the US-China trade war and other conflicts

Hungary’s emergency measures: MEPs ask EU to impose sanctions and stop payments

A Sting Exclusive: “There can be no global deal on emissions without China and the USA”, Conservative MEP Ian Duncan stresses from Brussels

Turning challenge into opportunity on the course to becoming the first climate-neutral continent

Coronavirus: EU guidance for a safe return to the workplace

Doctors are humans too: the benefits of embracing your mental status

Trade is not a weapon. Let’s not use it as one

The staggering loss of the Arctic Ocean’s oldest sea ice shown in time-lapse

Coronavirus vs flu: how do they compare?

Climate change recognized as ‘threat multiplier’, UN Security Council debates its impact on peace

Ebola outbreak in DR Congo declared over, now let’s tackle other health challenges: WHO chief

Asylum: deal to update EU fingerprinting database

Relieving the suffering of dying: Home Palliative Care as a spiritual coping strategy

IMF: The near-term outlook for the U.S. economy is one of strong growth and job creation

MWC 2016 Live: Industrial world prepares to reap digital benefits

EU continues targeting on Chinese steel imports instead of the revival of its own economy

What the global Internet’s stakeholders can learn from Europe’s new data law

EU to finance new investment projects with extra borrowing; French and Italian deficits to be tolerated

IMF’s Lagarde: Estimating Cyber Risk for the Financial Sector

Reading this alone? Recent surveys reveal the curious truth about loneliness

UN chief announces progress on committee to shape Syria’s political future

These are the countries where it’s still illegal to get an abortion

Remembering slave trade offers chance to raise awareness, ‘oppose all forms of modern slavery’ – UNESCO

Immigrant integration policies have improved but challenges remain

Scientists now think air pollution is fuelling violent crime

A new world that demands new doctors in the fourth industrial revolution

Is there a chance for the West to win the war on terror?

Mainland Europe adopts Germanic cartel business patterns

Nicaragua crisis: One year in, more than 60,000 have fled, seeking refuge

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s