Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



Canada-European Union CETA Negotiations - What We Have is a Failure to Communicate

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade negotiators spent January 18-22, 2010 in Brussels Belgium negotiating the Second Round of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Canada's former Ambassador to the World Trade Organization, Don Stephenson, was an active participant.  Don leads the Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch of DFAIT and, interestingly, he was the Chair of the Negotiating Group of Market Access of the Doha Round of WTO negotiations until he returned to Canada.  As a result, he is very knowledgeable on the EU positions at the WTO Doha Round and, in particular, the EU’s proposed WTO concessions in terms of non-agricultural goods. 

The Second Round of CETA negotiations have ended and there are no postings o the DFAIT web-site updating Canadian businesses and consumers about the progress (or lack thereof) in the Second Round of CETA negotiations.  While this is not unusual if one considers the negotiation of other free trade agreements, these negotiations are occurring in a different environment.  The negotiations include the provinces.  The EU is a large territory of developed countries, including overlapping interests with Canada (e.g. autos, wine, shipbuilding, etc.).  The world is still recovering from an economic recessions. As a result, Canadian businesses are demanding more communication from government.  Businesses want opportunities to communicate their views.  Canadian businesses do not want to become a “loser” in the negotiation of a trade bargain and owe it to shareholders, workers and communities to follow what is happening and cost-efficiently consult.  Everyone doing their part requires communication by the Canadian Government on the issues, even if this means that the job of considering compromises become more complicated.

One of the best sources of information that emerged this week came from www.michaelgeist.ca.  Michael posted a number of posts about the CETA negotiations after starting a discussion about what was expected in terms of intellectual property concessions.  At one point there was a leaked draft of the EU proposal, however, the document has been removed.  Michael saw the draft at one time and provided observations - http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/4627/125/ Michael then provided insights from submissions from eBay Canada, the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association and the Canadian Publishers' Council.

A number of NGOs and unions have made statements about the CETA negotiations- in particular, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the Council of Canadians (CoC), the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), the Sierra Club Canada (SCC), the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).  Most of the statements are not particularly insightful --- but they do convey views.

Council of Canadians - http://www.canadians.org/media/trade/2010/22-Jan-10.html

Another relevant (but dated document) is the Joint Report on the EU-Canada Scoping Exercise (March 5, 2009)

A Coalition of organizations from Nova Scotia made a statement asking the Dexter Government to communicate with Nova Scotians (since the provinces are at the negotiation table and participating in the activities) - http://www.canadians.org/media/trade/2010/21-Jan-10.html

A number of the statements made this week called on the Federal and Provincial governments for greater transparency --- I will report further if someone is listening and does open up.

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