CFN – Canada should set ambitious goals in trade talks with the European Union (EU), which resume next week, since it has much to gain from a comprehensive trade accord, according to a report released today by the C.D. Howe Institute. In “Go Big or Go Home: Priorities for the Canada-EU Economic and Trade Agreement,” Daniel Schwanen, Associate Vice President, International and Trade Policy, says a comprehensive economic and trade agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU is both desirable and possible.
“For Canada,” says Schwanen, “an agreement with the EU is a strategic opportunity to significantly diversify the market for its high-value-added goods, services and skills, and to increase the attractiveness of its economy for investors. It’s also a chance to make a statement that it is ready to engage with other important trade partners on reducing barriers to mutually beneficial trade and investment. “
A meaningful and mutually beneficial agreement will require bold steps on the part of Canada and the EU, says the author, because the Canada-EU relationship is more intensive in services, sophisticated goods, and direct cross-border investments than are Canada’s other trade relationships. This, says Schwanen, means that an agreement needs to address in-depth questions of how domestic practices in Canada affect EU businesses, and vice-versa.
Thus, he says, a good agreement would, in addition to addressing more traditional trade barriers, open up bidding on public procurement contracts in Canada and the EU more equally to each party’s firms, address the protection of intellectual property rights, facilitate the mobility of skilled personnel, and provide assurances that regulation will be applied even-handedly between Canadian and EU firms.
Many of these issues can be contentious, as they require scrutiny of a number of Canadian government practices, including at the provincial level. Indeed, for this reason, provinces are for the first time at the negotiating table.
These issues can all be addressed, Schwanen says, without compromising the ability of Canada and the EU to pursue public policy objectives or to regulate for the benefit of their constituents.
Says Schwanen: “Canada should seize the strategic opportunity presented by the CETA negotiations. Inability to do so would risk confining Canada’s economic horizons increasingly to home,” he concludes.
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