Canada’s chief Canada – EU Trade Agreement negotiators provided an update on the CETA talks today, sketching out an ambitious negotiation schedule that they hope will lead to a Ministerial meeting in November to resolve the key outstanding issues. The next round of CETA negotiations will occur in Brussels in mid-October and run for two weeks. Negotiators hope that the round will resolve most issues, leaving the most contentious concerns to the ministers, who will meet in Europe in mid-November.
Intellectual property remains on the contentious issue list, but negotiators advised that a deal on the copyright rules has largely been reached. The lead IP negotiator indicated that given the European Parliament rejection of ACTA, there is now no appetite in Europe for the inclusion of controversial ACTA provisions within the agreement. In fact, when asked directly whether CETA would require legislative changes to current Canadian copyright law (ie. post C-11), Canada’s lead negotiators said he did not think changes would be required. Assuming this interpretation of CETA and the Copyright Act is accurate, it suggests no changes on issues such as copyright term, resale rights, ISP liability, and enforcement. Early drafts of CETA addressed all of these issues.
While a copyright deal has been reached, the IP rules on geographic indications and patents are both headed to a ministerial showdown. The negotiators indicated the GI issue would require a political decision. The GI issue apparently includes border measures provisions, which has implications for copyright enforcement. The negotiators also confirmed that patents, which have been the target of major lobbying campaigns from the pharmaceutical industry, have still not been the subject of negotiation. The political pressures on pharmaceutical patents are significant on both sides, with some EU member states pushing for extended protection and several Canadian provinces arguing against changes that could add billions to health care costs. The negotiators identified several additional issues that will ultimately require political intervention: rules of origin for automobiles, agriculture issues including beef, pork, dairy, and fish, government procurement, as well as services. The objective remains to conclude the deal by the end of the year.