From NAFTA to CETA: Canada-EU Deep Economic Integration

Published on Global, by Dana Gabriel, January 13, 2011.

Canada and the European Union (EU) have already held five rounds of negotiations towards a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement CETA which will go beyond NAFTA.

With the sixth round of talks scheduled to take place in Brussels, Belgium from January 17-21, Canadian and EU officials remain optimistic that a deal could be finalized by the end of 2011. Thus far, negotiations have included key areas such as goods, rules of origin, services, investment, government procurement, as well as others. As talks enter their final crucial stages, there are growing concerns over the threat CETA poses to Canadian sovereignty. Coupled with the financial turmoil sweeping Europe, deep economic integration with the EU could prove disastrous … // 

… It is becoming apparent that Canadian sacrifices in regards to a free trade agreement with the EU outweighs any potential benefits. While Canada does need to lessen its dependency on the U.S. economy, CETA is based on the failed NAFTA trade model and will only serve to accelerate the corporate takeover of the country. The sixth round of negotiations are expected to focus on sensitive areas such as tariffs on dairy imports, intellectual property rights investment and regulatory standardization, as well as public procurement. CETA is part of a larger agenda and could be used as a blueprint for a future US-EU trade agreement and a stepping-stone to a NAFTA-EU free trade zone.

At the EU-U.S. Summit held in Lisbon several months back, leaders reaffirmed their close partnership, as well as their desire to bring greater prosperity and security to both sides of the Atlantic. They recognised the central role of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) and entrusted, “the TEC to develop a transatlantic agenda to stimulate growth and create jobs in key emerging sectors and technologies.” The TEC was called upon to, “identify ways to improve transatlantic consultation before regulators and agencies develop regulation in economically promising new technologies and sectors, to share best practices, and to develop joint principles with the aim of promoting maximum compatibility of regulations and the freest possible transatlantic flow of ideas, products, and services.” The TEC was established in 2007 in an effort to work towards increasing investment, eliminating trade barriers and streamlining harmonization on regulations. It is the framework for advancing transatlantic economic integration between the U.S. and the EU.

In December of last year, the TEC met in Washington where “European Commissioners and leading US government representatives took the first concrete steps to ensure the TEC process creates a forward-looking business environment that reduces regulatory barriers and encourages innovation, shared standards and high-tech business.” An agreement on a common approach to electronic health record systems and a declaration on energy efficiency was also signed. The TEC meeting identified other, “key areas for joint activities in the innovation sector and discussed ways to ensure secure trade and strengthen the customs cooperation between the two partners.” The TEC has been compared to the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). Along with NAFTA, the SPP agenda which continues to move forward through other initiatives, is essentially laying the foundation for a North American Union. A Canada-EU trade deal would be an incremental step towards a Free Trade Area of the Atlantic and an eventual Transatlantic Union.

Canada has fared better than other countries during the current financial crisis. With parts of Europe still marred in recession and debt trouble, a trade agreement with the EU, especially under the template in which it is being negotiated could prove costly. Failed monetary policies and government managed free trade agreements that favour corporate interests, deserve their share of the blame for the current global economic predicament. Yet, we are still being told that more globalization is the solution to our financial woes. In order to further restructure the world, the ruling elite seek to capitalize on the economic chaos which in many ways they engineered. (full text).

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