Lot of work left on Canada-EU trade deal, both sides say
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada and the European Union still have plenty of work to do on a proposed free trade treaty that is supposed to be finished by the end of the year, officials from both sides said on Thursday.
Canada, keen to diversify its exports away from the United States, says a deal with the European Union would increase two-way trade by 20 percent. The talks started in 2009.
But several sensitive matters remain to be settled, including access for agricultural goods, opening up procurement markets and the extension of pharmaceutical patents.
"Our negotiators are still in regular touch with the EU negotiators. There are still a lot of discussions that have to take place," Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast told Reuters by telephone.
"There is a small basket of issues left and as in any negotiations, they are the toughest ones to resolve. I am certainly committed to negotiating around or through those."
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht this week said he would meet Fast in Brussels on November 20 to work on the most challenging issues. Fast said he had not made travel plans yet.
Maurizio Cellini, head of the economic and trade section at the EU's delegation in Canada, said the two sides were working relentlessly to wrap up their work by the end of 2012.
"Nevertheless, although we have achieved good results, to reach a truly ambitious agreement that reflects our relationship we both need to do more," he said in a speech in Ottawa. Continued...