Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Report on Business

Economy Lab

Delving into the forces that shape our living standards
Best Business Blog, EPPY awards, 2011 and 2012

Entry archive:

Economy Lab has moved

Only Globe Unlimited members will now have access to a wide range of insightful commentary
and analysis on the economy and markets previously offered on this page.


Globe Unlimited subscribers will be able to read these columns,
written by some of Canada’s most deeply respected economists,
such as Christopher Ragan, Sheryl King, Andrew Jackson, and Clement Gignac,
as part of our ROB INSIGHT section.


All of our readers will still be able to browse the Economy Lab archives and read our
broader coverage of economic data and news by accessing their 10 free articles a month.


Learn more about Globe Unlimited and how to subscribe.

EU flags fly at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels in this file photo. (Yves Logghe/Associated Press)
EU flags fly at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels in this file photo. (Yves Logghe/Associated Press)

‘Difficult issues’ remain in Canada-EU trade talks Add to ...

Several thorny issues are holding up the Canada-Europe free trade agreement, putting at risk the year-end deadline for securing a deal.

Karel De Gucht, the European Commission’s top trade official, says there are “a number of issues you can only resolve at the political level.”

In a videotaped interview with Belgian news web site viEUws, Mr. De Gucht did not identify the outstanding problems. But he dampened expectations a deal will be done before the end of the year – the self-imposed target set by the two sides.

More Related to this Story

“We should have no illusions,” he said. “There are still a number of difficult issues to tackle. So I’m not promising anything.”

Mr. De Gucht said a scheduled Nov. 20 meeting in Brussels between Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast and his European counterpart would be a final opportunity “sort it out and do the necessary political arbitration.”

The two sides are still at odds over a number of issues, including intellectual protection for drugs, government procurement and foreign investment rules.

But these are not the only sections of the deal, where final language remains elusive.

In a letter sent this week to Mr. De Gucht and Mr. Fast, Canadian and U.S. business groups urged the two sides to pursue a deal with “renewed ambition and resolve.”

Among other items, the letter calls for “non-discriminatory” access to energy, an end to protection of services, resolution unscientific trade barriers in agriculture as well as procurement deal that covers all levels of government and public utilities.

Among the signatories to the letter are Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty, Shirley-Ann George of the Canadian Services Coalition and former Liberal cabinet minister Roy MacLaren, chairman of the Canada-Europe Roundtable for Business.

Mr. Fast is in regular contact with Canadian negotiators and Mr. De Gucht to “ensure any agreement reached is in the best interests of Canadians,” said Rudy Husny, the Minister’s spokesman.

The fact that the Europeans are playing up the Fast-De Gucht meeting suggests the two sides “really do think they’re in the end game,” remarked John Weekes, former top Canadian trade negotiator and now a consultant with law firm Bennett Jones in Ottawa.

The tricky part now is structuring a deal that has enough of what both sides want to prevent it all from coming undone, he said. “In a big negotiation, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” Mr. Weekes said.

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories