Failure of EU trade deal would leave Canada in tough position
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - The looming failure of free trade talks with the European Union would derail Canada's push to reduce its dependence on the United States and potentially complicate negotiations with other nations, such as India and China.
The EU's hopes of signing the pact this week appeared to evaporate on Monday as the Belgian government failed to win the consent of regional authorities necessary to approve the deal.
The European deal would have given Canada preferential access to a market of 500 million people, more than the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), at a time when the U.S.-Canadian partnership is under pressure.
Canada sends 75 percent of all its exports to the United States.
"We are one of the most dependent countries in the world in regards to trade," said former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who initiated negotiations for the EU deal during his tenure.
"If this agreement fails, it will be a disappointment," he told Reuters.
It would leave Canada, which is desperate to revive a sluggish export sector, in the predicament policymakers have tried to avoid: overly dependent on the United States, where both presidential candidates have talked about changing NAFTA.
Getting the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) through would be a coup for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has pressed other countries to resist protectionist sentiment since taking office in November. Continued...