Parts of Canada-EU trade deal still being revised: chief negotiator

OTTAWA -- Canada is working with the European Union to revise controversial investor protection provisions in their landmark free trade deal at the direction of the new Liberal government.

See Full Article

But Canada's chief negotiator Steve Verhuel said Tuesday the ongoing work with the EU does not mean the pact has been reopened to negotiation.

The comprehensive deal in goods and services, known as CETA, has been plagued with delays since negotiations were publicly declared finished in the summer of 2014 after what was then five years of talks.

"We're not re-opening the negotiations at all," Verhuel told the House of Commons trade committee.

The government wants to see if improvements can make the dispute-resolution mechanism more favourable to Canada, he said.

The Europeans first raised the matter after political opposition arose in Europe in 2014 over the chapter that deals with settling disputes between companies and governments, known as ISDS.

Some European politicians and anti-trade activists have raised concern that the investor-state dispute settlement chapter would give big companies the power to sue governments for creating regulations that affect their profits.

They say it could undermine the ability of countries to regulate environmental and health policies, among other things.

European officials, including most recently the EU ambassador to Canada, have said they don't see ISDS as an impediment to the deal being implemented.

Verhuel was responding to a question from the NDP trade critic Tracey Ramsey, who asked whether the new Liberal government wants him to "to take CETA in a new direction" on ISDS or any other part of the deal.

"I wouldn't call them instructions at this point. We've certainly had a dialogue about potential improvements that could be made," Verhuel said.

"We have had an interest on our side in seeing whether we can make some improvements in light of that and that's been supported by the government."

Part of ongoing discussion with the EU includes, "clarifying some of the provisions in the agreement with respect to the obligations to ensure that the government's right to regulate is not interfered with by investor claims that could affect that ability to regulate."

Verhuel said he expects the deal to be ratified and fully implemented next year.

That's essentially the same timeline that the EU ambassador to Canada, Marie-Anne Coninsx, offered in a recent interview.

Like Coninsx, Verhuel said the deal is now in the legal "scrubbing" phase and is in the process of being translated into French and more than 20 official European languages.

But Ramsey said in an interview that it is unclear from what Verhuel told the committee whether the deal is actively being negotiated rather than simply translated and legally vetted.

"We have the chief negotiator saying they are working on rewriting sections of the deal," said Ramsey.

She said the Liberals have not brought any more clarity to the trade talks than the previous Conservative government, which negotiated the deal.

"All of this is happening in secret," said Ramsey. "I'd like the Liberals to level with Canadians -- let us know what's on the table and also what they're up to."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • In signal to Trump, China, Iran say nuclear deal must stand

    Economic CTV News
    BEIJING -- The foreign ministers of China and Iran on Monday urged governments not to violate the deal that limits Iran's nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, in remarks apparently directed at U.S. Source
  • Italy hit by market volatility after referendum defeat

    Economic CTV News
    MILAN -- Italian voters dealt Premier Matteo Renzi a resounding rebuke early Monday by rejecting his proposed constitutional reforms, plunging Europe's fourth-largest economy into political and economic uncertainty. Renzi announced he would quit following Sunday's referendum vote, in which 60 per cent of voters rejected his proposals and signalled they wanted a change in political direction. Source
  • Alberta Premier Rachel Notley heads to B.C. on Monday, spokeswoman confirms

    Economic CTV News
    EDMONTON - A spokeswoman for Rachel Notley says the Alberta premier will visit British Columbia on Monday. Cheryl Oates confirmed the visit would occur when she was asked via text over the weekend, but did not respond to emails asking for details. Source
  • Donating can make a big difference for charity -- and your tax bill

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- The last few weeks of the year are the busiest for Canadian charities with people who rush to get in their last-minute donations before the Dec. 31 deadline.Scroll down or click here to vote in our poll of the day More than 24 million Canadians gave away a total of $12.8 billion to charities in 2013, with the average gift per donor being $531, according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada. Source
  • Central banks are intrinsically conservative to keep our money safe: Don Pittis

    Economic CBC News
    Which is the best economic strategy: delayed gratification, or live for today? In the era of Donald Trump, it seems inevitable that the entrepreneurial urge to make hay while the sun shines is headed for a collision with the restraining forces of central banking. Source
  • Asian stocks tumble after Italy rejects constitutional changes

    Economic CTV News
    BEIJING - Asian shares tumbled Monday after Italian voters' rejected constitutional changes, raising questions over whether Italy will stay in the European Union and keep using the euro. KEEPING SCORE: Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 index dropped 1 per cent to 5,391.40 points and the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.9 per cent to 3,215.30. Source
  • Global shares mixed after Italy rejects constitution changes

    Economic CTV News
    BEIJING -- Asian shares tumbled Monday while Europe opened higher after Italian voters rejected constitutional changes, raising questions over whether the country will stay in the European Union and keep using the euro. KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, Germany's DAX added 0.8 per cent to 10,599.05 points and France's CAC-40 gained 0.3 per cent to 4,542.94. Source
  • After major victory, Dakota Access oil pipeline protesters to defy deadline

    Economic CTV News
    CANNON BALL, N.D. -- Protesters celebrated a major victory in their push to reroute the Dakota Access oil pipeline away from a tribal water source but pledged to remain camped on federal land in North Dakota anyway, despite Monday's government deadline to leave. Source
  • North Dakota pipeline protesters vow to stay despite victory

    Economic CTV News
    CANNON BALL, N.D. -- Protesters celebrated a major victory in their push to reroute the Dakota Access oil pipeline away from a tribal water source but pledged to remain camped on federal land in North Dakota anyway, despite Monday's government deadline to leave. Source
  • Euro tumbles after Italy's PM resigns, loses referendum

    Economic CBC News
    The euro tumbled in early Asian trade on Monday after Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said he would resign after conceding defeat in a referendum over his plan to reform the constitution. The euro dropped 1.3 per cent to $1.0505 US, falling below its 1 1/2-year low of $1.0518 touched late last month, and testing its key support levels where the currency has managed to rebound in the past couple of years. Source