Thursday, September 23, 2010

Canada’s EU Trade Talks Could Fall Apart

(Financial Post – Danielle Goldfarb and Louis Thériault)

Negotiators need to take the offensive in opening Canada to EU trade

Canadian and European Union negotiators have made stunning progress toward a comprehensive Canada–EU trade agreement in the past year and a half. But the entire agreement could fall apart if narrow interests prevail, costing Canada access to a wider range of trade opportunities than most of us can imagine.

The EU wants to go big in this deal – and it is ready to go home without an agreement if only a narrow deal is on offer. But Canadian public discussion on the issue – when it exists at all – is dominated by a narrow approach. Some voices, for example, want to keep EU products, such as cheese, out of Canada; or they do not want to allow EU companies to provide services to Canadians. Media coverage tends to be narrowly focused on Canada’s exports of products to the EU. And many businesses seem unaware that we are even negotiating a deal, let alone a wide-ranging one.

In reality, the stakes in this negotiation are enormous. If there is no deal, Canadians will lose out on freer access to a deep and wide range of trade opportunities that dwarf the widely reported $35-billion in annual Canadian product exports to the EU. Read more here.