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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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    Government Now Says No Deadline for CETA Completion

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    Thursday April 11, 2013
    Ted Menzies, the Minister of State for Finance, yesterday delivered a talk on the Canada - EU Trade Agreement that marked an important shift in the government's rhetoric on the agreement. Aside from a bizarre reference to the value of the agreement being $17 trillion dollars (total Canadian GDP is $1.8 trillion), the talk is most notable from the move away from promising swift completion of the agreement. After years of setting missed deadlines, Menzies now says there is no deadline for completion, suggesting that the government is beginning to hedge on whether there even will be a deal. I wrote about the prospect of the agreement dying altogether last month.
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    Industry Committee Report on Intellectual Property: A Case of Policy Laundering for CETA and TPP

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    Tuesday March 19, 2013

    The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology released its report on the Intellectual Property Regime in Canada yesterday. The report is the result of lengthy hearings that focused on a wide range of IP issues including patent reform, trademarks, counterfeiting, and pharmaceutical protection. While most the recommendations are fairly innocuous - the committee identifies many issues for further study - there are essentially three main legislative reform recommendations. One involves limiting the scope of official marks, which appears to be the result of comments from Dalhousie law professor Rob Currie (echoed by CIPO's Sylvain Laporte) expressing concern with governmental abuse of official marks in a way that may stifle innovation.

    The other two are particularly interesting as they set the stage for the Canada - EU Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. First, the report recommends anti-counterfeiting measures similar to those required by CETA and found in Bill C-56.  Should criticism arise over Bill C-56 or CETA, the government will likely point to this report in support. 

    The second involves a classic case of policy laundering as the government has manufactured support for CETA and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) provisions that were not even raised at committee.  The report recommends:


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    Cave or Cancel?: The Future (or End) of the Canada - EU Trade Agreement

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    Friday March 15, 2013

    Last November, Maclean's columnist Paul Wells wrote a piece on the Canada - EU Trade Agreement in which he expressed doubt about the ability to conclude the deal ("Everybody connected to the negotiations assures me there will be a deal. Every public sign I see makes me think there won’t."). I was skeptical about the prospect of years of negotiations falling apart and expected the political level meetings in November to wrap things up.  They didn't.  Last month, International Trade Minister Ed Fast and his European counterpart Karel de Gucht tried again.  Still no deal.

    While Fast wants everyone to believe that momentum is building toward an agreement, it clearly is not. Over the last year, Canada's lead lawyer on the negotiations resigned, Canada's lead agricultural negotiator was re-assigned, and the EU's lead negotiator has added the EU - Vietnam agreement to his responsibilities with rumours that he will head the EU - Japan trade talks. Fast says he won't negotiate the agreement in the media and then proceeds to do exactly that by staking out positions on agriculture and investment. The same business groups that have been lobbying for the deal issue a public letter on the agreement that does little other than promise "future support."

    All of this adds up to missed deadline after missed deadline. In 2010, officials said the deal would be completed in 2011.  In early 2011, they said it would be completed by the end of the year.  By late 2011, the deadline had moved to 2012.  Yet it is now 2013 and Fast admitted this week that there may not be an agreement this year. 


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