Canada and the European Union (EU) have been negotiating the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) since 2009 and there is an air of secrecy surrounding talks.
The eighth round of negotiations recently took place in Belgium and it is estimated the agreement could be completed by October.
It’s easy to see why the two would work on a free trade agreement together as according to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, the EU is our country’s second biggest trading partner – in 2010, goods and service exports to Europe equaled $49.2 billion while imports from Europe equaled $55.3 billion.
Furthermore, Statistics Canada numbers indicate that the EU is Canada’s second biggest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) with stock of FDI amounting to $146.9 billion at the end of last year while the country’s direct investment in the European Union amounted to $145.2 billion.
International trade is a big, big cog in the machine that is the world’s economy and while there is nothing wrong with Canada and Europe as trading partners, there is a lot wrong with CETA, at least based on what we know about it. Little information about the details of negotiations is forthcoming but according some – including the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – the agreement could handcuff local government when it comes to handing out contracts to local businesses for goods and services.
Municipal government is responsible for such services as water and waste and recycling collection and a paper from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives suggests that CETA could threaten this control.
The paper says that the agreement is likely to include rules protecting foreign investors from government action, which would decrease the value of an investment or take away market access from an investor.
Federal and municipal politicians worry that water and CETA could affect farming and water rights and in fact, some people have sent letters to MPs and MLAs expressing opposition to the agreement. But while opposition from municipal government may make a difference, residents from municipalities can make the voice of opposition that much stronger.
Write your MP and MLA voicing opposition to CETA.
People raised their voices in opposition to the HST and it led to change. Doing the same thing in opposition to CETA could go a long way in protecting municipalities.