OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada and the European Union will not be able to conclude a free-trade deal at ministerial talks set for Ottawa this week, a source close to the negotiations told Reuters on Monday.
Talks on a deal started in 2009 and were supposed to have wrapped up by the end of 2012. Industry sources say the two sides still have differences over areas such as agricultural exports and intellectual property.
Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht will meet in Ottawa this Wednesday and Thursday
“There won’t be an agreement this week ... I don’t want you to think that on Thursday we’re going to announce an agreement - that’s clearly not going to happen,” said the source, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.
“We’re still working on narrowing the gaps and that’s what we doing and that’s what this meeting is for,” the source said.
Fast and De Gucht held inconclusive talks in November in Brussels on the trade treaty.
The delay could be politically awkward, since De Gucht is keen to start talks on a similar deal with the United States. EU officials say if the Canada agreement takes too long to conclude, there is a risk senior trade experts could decide to focus on the U.S. talks instead.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott