EU risks trade impotency as critics target Canada deal

Fri Sep 9, 2016 8:08am EDT
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By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A deal that would allow Canada to sell maple syrup duty free in the EU and Europeans to ship more cheese to Canadian shops has become the focus of a battle with anti-globalization groups that is key to the future of Europe's free trade agreements.

    Supporters of the huge deal say it would increase trade between the EU and Canada on a range of products, from cars to investment and farm products, by nearly a quarter, boosting the EU economy by 12 billion euros.

    But anti-globalization and other groups emboldened by France's call to suspend EU trade talks with the United States, have turned their attention to the deal already reached with Canada which has not yet been approved.

    There is a growing public backlash in the West against free trade and globalization, which critics blame for factory closures, depressed wages and a widening gap between rich and poor. Britain's decision to leave the European Union was partly seen as a protest by some voters against globalization.

    "CETA (EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) is the little brother of TTIP (EU-U.S. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and needs to be buried alongside it," said Fabio De Masi, a German member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the leftist Die Linke party.

Canada is not impressed.

    "If the EU cannot do a deal with Canada, I think it is legitimate to say who the heck can it do a deal with," Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said in June.

    Other supporters say CETA is the most modern trade deal ever made and that the new Canadian government bent over backwards to accept EU demands for a new way of settling investor claims.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives at a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 22, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo