EU-Canada trade talks stalled, overshadowed by U.S.

Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:12am EDT
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* Talks launched in 2009 were due to finish last November

* An agreement could generate $28 bln a year in new income

* EU-Canada deal would also help shape EU-U.S. talks

By Robin Emmott and David Ljunggren

BRUSSELS/OTTAWA, April 22 (Reuters) - Talks to wrap up a multi-billion-dollar free trade deal between Canada and Europe have stalled, diplomats said, raising concerns the agreement could be put on hold as Brussels switches its attention to a much bigger pact with the United States.

The Ottawa-Brussels negotiations to open up access to each others' economies were launched in 2009, and were originally presented as a straightforward bid to reinvigorate growth and generate around $28 billion in trade and new business a year.

But diplomats and officials told Reuters wrangling over the amount of beef Canada will be able to export to the EU, and EU demands for greater ability to bid for Canadian government contracts, are bedevilling the final stages of the agreement.

"This was supposed to be done in November, then we said February, but now there's no clarity ... No one wants to walk away from this, but it could be put on ice if things remain stuck for a prolonged period," said an EU diplomat.

An EU agreement with Canada would be its first with a member of the G7 club of major economies. It would also be one of a new generation of deals that not only remove import tariffs but also harmonise rules on how companies do business across borders.   Continued...