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

  • Uber executive out after failing to disclose sexual harassment allegation: report

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK - A top engineering executive at Uber, Amit Singhal, is out five weeks after his hire was announced. According to a report in the tech blog Recode, he failed to disclose that he'd left his previous job at Google because of a sexual harassment allegation. Source
  • Bell Media names Randy Lennox president after Mary Ann Turcke leaves

    Economic CBC News
    Bell Media has named Randy Lennox as its president following the departure of Mary Ann Turcke for a new opportunity with the NFL. Lennox, a former executive at Universal Music Canada, joined the media giant in August 2015 as president of entertainment production and broadcasting. Source
  • Bell Media names Randy Lennox as new president

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL - Bell Media has named Randy Lennox as its president following the departure of Mary Ann Turcke for a new opportunity with the NFL. Lennox, a former executive at Universal Music Canada, joined the media giant in August 2015 as president of entertainment production and broadcasting. Source
  • Are loyalty programs even worth it anymore?

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The value of customer loyalty programs is under increased scrutiny by companies and users in the wake of Air Miles' recent reversal of an unpopular expiration policy. The operator of the shopper reward program, LoyaltyOne, angered many members last year with its proposal to void unused Air Miles after five years, only to abandon that plan weeks before it was to take effect. Source
  • Manulife admits fine by money-laundering watchdog Fintrac

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Manulife Financial Corp. confirmed Monday its banking unit was penalized last year after Canada's money-laundering watchdog concluded it failed to report a suspicious transaction and various money transfers. Last year, Fintrac fined the bank $1.15 million, but it withheld the bank's identity, saying it was exercising its discretion to do so. Source
  • B.C. increasing minimum wage to $11.35

    Economic CTV News
    VICTORIA - The minimum wage in British Columbia will rise by 50 cents to $11.35 an hour in mid-September. The ministry says there will be an identical increase of 50 cents to the minimum wage for liquor servers, bringing it to $10.10 per hour in September. Source
  • 5 billion mobile phone users projected for 2017: study

    Economic CTV News
    With populations in Asia on the rise, the number of mobile phones, which stood at 4.8 billion a year ago, should mushroom to 5.7 billion, or three quarters of the world's population, by 2020. The number of mobile phone users globally will surpass five billion by the middle of this year, according to a study released Monday by GSMA, the association of mobile operators. Source
  • Behold the KEYone: Last BlackBerry-designed phone with a physical keyboard

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Fans of BlackBerry's classic physical keyboard will have reason to celebrate when the last product designed in part by the former smartphone leader becomes available in April. The Waterloo, Ont.-based firm played a role in developing the KEYone, named for the return of the QWERTY keyboard that other smartphone designers have mostly long retired. Source
  • Manulife revealed as bank FINTRAC fined $1.15M for anti-money laundering failures

    Economic CBC News
    The head of Canada's top financial crime watchdog is second-guessing his decision last year to withhold the name of a Canadian bank — which CBC Investigates has identified — fined $1.15 million for violating the federal anti-money laundering and terrorist financing act. Source
  • Manulife revealed as bank fined $1.15M for violating anti-money laundering reporting rules

    Economic CBC News
    The head of Canada's top financial crime watchdog is second-guessing his decision last year to withhold the name of a Canadian bank — which CBC Investigates has identified — fined $1.15 million for violating the federal anti-money laundering and terrorist financing act. Source