Canada must open up to clinch bilateral trade deal: EU
By Robin Emmott
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Canada must offer the European Union broader access to its markets if both sides are to agree a free-trade accord they have been negotiating since 2009, the EU's trade chief said on Thursday.
A free-trade agreement with Canada would be the European Union's first such deal with a major world economy. The United States is watching closely because Washington will launch separate trade negotiations with Brussels later this year.
Following the collapse of the Doha world trade talks in 2008, major economies are pushing ahead with bilateral deals to try to drive economic growth through trade when consumers at home are suffering from the aftermath of the global financial crisis and the euro zone debt crisis.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht had hoped to wrap up talks for a free-trade agreement with Canada in Ottawa in early February, when he met his Canadian counterpart Ed Fast.
But negotiations are held up over contentious issues including agricultural exports, intellectual property and the ability being to bid for government contracts on both sides of the Atlantic.
"What was on the table was simply not feasible," De Gucht told the European Parliament's trade committee, when asked by one lawmaker to explain why a deal had not been reached.
"On a number of issues they will have to make additional exceptions," he said, referring to the Canadians.
Rudy Husny, Canadian Minister for International Trade Fast's spokesman, played down any suggestion of an impasse. Continued...