Canada won't join bailout fund for Europe

Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:50pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has no desire to contribute to a bailout fund for Europe, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday, noting that European issues are likely to come up at this weekend's Summit of the Americas in Colombia, which Harper will attend.

"I think the euro zone is of particular interest, obviously. That situation remains unresolved," spokesman Andrew MacDougall told reporters. "The biggest threat to the global recovery remains Europe."

Canada has said that Europe has enough resources of its own to deal with its economic troubles. In January, the International Monetary Fund said it would need an additional $500 billion to lend to deal with the euro zone crisis and another $100 billion for reserves.

"The prime minister and the finance minister have been equally clear that Canada's not interested in contributing to a bailout fund for Europe, and that remains the position," MacDougall said.

In a statement, Harper emphasized other economic issues. "Given the fragile state of the global economy, it is imperative that real progress be achieved on trade and investment liberalization in the Americas and beyond," he said.

Summits of the Americas were first established to work toward an Americas-wide free trade agreement, but that idea has been given up effectively. Many participants are now pursuing a free trade deal in the Asia Pacific region through a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The TPP talks currently include nine countries - the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei - and have the goal of reaching an agreement by the end of the year.

Canada, Mexico and Japan asked to join the TPP negotiations last November at a regional summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama. Canada has so far resisted a request that it abandon its supply management of poultry and dairy products before it joins the talks.

"Canada's not going to negotiate away things to get to the (negotiating) table," MacDougall said.

(Editing by Peter Galloway)