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    The Trade Agreement That Cried Wolf: The Canada - EU Trade Agreement Timeline

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    Monday June 17, 2013
    The Canada - EU Trade Agreement was in the news last week with multiple reports on the likelihood of talks concluding within the next few days. Some reports said a deal was possible, British Prime Minister David Cameron said a deal is close, but by the end of the week Prime Minister Harper was saying that there was no deadline to conclude negotiations. While there is another report a deal may come today or tomorrow, if the past few years are any indication, we can expect continued speculation without a deal for many more months to come. A timeline of the talks for the past three years:


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    The CETA Leak: Major Outstanding Issues Remain in an Unbalanced Deal

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    Monday November 26, 2012
    As International Trade Minister Ed Fast returns from negotiations in Europe that failed to secure a deal on the Canada - EU Trade Agreement, newly leaked documents to the CAQ and posted by LaPresse provide a detailed look at the remaining outstanding issues with details on the Canadian and European positions. The documents (1, 2, 3, 4) make it clear that the EU recognizes the deal is unbalanced as there are far more demands for Canadian changes than European ones. The EU retains the hope that Canada will cave on the EU demands since "the EU market to which it gains preferential access is much larger than its own."

    This ranks as perhaps the most important CETA leak to date, since it clearly identifies the key remaining issues, the European demands, and the massive changes that would be required for Canada to comply with the treaty.  Some of the changes demanded by Europe include patent reform that could add billions to Canadian health care costs, the removal of foreign ownership restrictions on telecommunications and book publishing, the opening of public procurement for the energy and public transport sectors, eliminating Investment Canada Act review for European investments, new restrictions on the sale of a myriad of products such as feta and parmesan cheese, changes to agricultural protections (ie. supply management), and the adoption of European standards on passenger cars. This would require dramatic changes across the Canadian economy, all for what even the Europeans acknowledge are limited gains for Canada.

    Given what is at stake, there needs to be an open debate and consultation before an agreement is reached (which is no longer a certainty) and Canada should be considering whether a scaled down version of CETA - one that focuses primarily on a reduction of tariffs for trade in goods - is a better model. A closer look at the some of the remaining issues is posted below.




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    No Deal (Yet) on Canada - EU Trade Agreement

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    Friday November 23, 2012
    Canada's International Trade Minister Ed Fast traveled to Brussels this week hoping to secure a deal on the Canada - EU Trade Agreement. It looks like he'll be coming home empty handed as the EU has issued a release indicating that there are still gaps on key issues. The EU's take on the talks:

    Commissioner De Gucht and Minister Fast had in-depth discussions on the trade deal and made substantial progress. Both sides will now instruct their negotiators to narrow the gaps on the outstanding issues, aiming for a deal in the coming weeks. "I am pleased that our meeting at a political level has provided the momentum needed to spur on the negotiations into the home strait. It's clear that there has been significant progress but some important work remains to be done", stated Commissioner De Gucht. 
Both Commissioner De Gucht and Minister Fast decided to meet again very shortly and to continue discussions until an agreement is reached.

    That is a far cry from a done deal with more "work to be done" and the agreement going back to the negotiators for more talks.
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    Europe Considers Using CETA To Create "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Plus"

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    Monday June 13, 2011
    As Canada and the European Union continue their negotiations on a trade deal, a source has provided a copy of the EU proposal for the criminal intellectual property provisions. The IP criminal provisions was the one aspect left out of early drafts (the CETA leak from last year is available here). The initial EU proposal uses the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement's criminal provisions as the model. This includes ACTA Article 23 on Criminal Offences (criminal provisions for wilful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale), ACTA Article 24 on Penalties (including imprisonment), ACTA Article 25 on Seizure, Forfeiture, and Destruction, and ACTA Article 26 on Ex Officio Criminal Enforcement. Several of these provisions would require domestic legislative change in Canada that were not found in Bill C-32 (suggesting that an IP enforcement bill will be introduced sometime in the near future).

    Much like in ACTA negotiations, the EU is rejecting the request for inclusion of an anti-camcording provision in CETA. Canada enacted anti-camcording measures under pressure from the U.S. several years ago. The U.S. sought similar provisions in ACTA, but the EU ensured that the provision was optional, not mandatory.

    Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the EU criminal IP proposal is the internal divide over whether it should extend beyond ACTA to create an ACTA+. According to documents I've seen, Italy has called for the broadest possible scope for CETA, including geographical indications (yes, criminal provisions for geographical indications). Despite the fact that this extends well beyond ACTA, the Italian position is supported by Portugal, Greece, France, Romania, and the Czech Republic. In fact, the Czech Republic would also like to extend the criminal provisions to designs. The UK, Austria, and Finland oppose extending the provision beyond ACTA. The decision was ultimately made to start by proposing the ACTA language and consider progress on the remaining IP related issues in CETA before escalating European demands.
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