How Canada's free-trade deal with EU could impact U.S.
Published Monday, February 29, 2016 8:44PM EST
Canada’s updated free-trade deal with Europe could have significant implications for trade talks between the EU and the United States.
In an interview with CTV News, the European Union’s ambassador to Canada says the new version of CETA sets the “golden standard” for investment protection, and she hopes it “will have an impact for the U.S.”
“This decision to have an improved investor protection system had been decided by the European Commission a while ago, to apply in all ongoing and future negotiations,” Marie-Anne Coninsx said. “So this is the standard we want to set in all future agreements.” She was quick to clarify that because she is not the EU ambassador to the U.S., she did not want to predict any outcome for those talks.
The EU is in negotiations with the U.S. for a much larger free trade deal. However, there are concerns from European lawmakers that a similar agreement could make it easy for large American corporations to sue governments. For example, if a government adopts a tough new environmental law, a company set to lose profits because of that law could sue the government, or have the law overturned.
Over the past year, similar concerns were raised about CETA, which prompted a fresh round of negotiations to address the issue. Today, International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the deal had been tweaked.
“The sovereign right of democratically elected governments to regulate, including in essential areas like the environment and labour, is very important,” Freeland said at a news conference in Ottawa.
“We’re confident that this deal will be signed this year, and that it will enter into force next year,” the minister said. “This is really a gold-plated trade deal. It is going to bring tremendous benefits to Canadians and Europeans. We are going to feel a real increase in prosperity.”
Coninsx expressed similar enthusiasm. “We are delighted, we are thrilled because this is a major step forward, she said.”
She also agreed improvements were needed. “States have a right to regulate public policy, which seems to be obvious, but there was a call from the public to have it more clearly in the text.” Particularly on sensitive issues like “public health, on consumer policy, or environmental policies.”
Coninsx says she expects to see the deal finalized and enforced by early 2017.