Canada and EU move closer to trade talks

Thu Mar 5, 2009 3:04pm EST
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada said on Thursday it hopes to launch bilateral trade negotiations with the European Union as soon as possible, after the two governments agreed on the scope of an eventual deal.

Canada and the EU first agreed in October 2008 to seek what they have called a "comprehensive economic agreement" to boost two-way trade and investment.

They have now agreed that the areas for negotiation will include lowering tariffs on goods and services, and encompass areas such as investment, regulatory co-operation and rules of origin.

"This agreement puts us in a position to launch comprehensive negotiations as early as possible," Canadian Trade Minister Stockwell Day said.

Day said a joint economic study estimated that such an agreement could boost Canada's economy by C$12 billion ($9.3 billion) and increase bilateral trade by at least 20 percent. He estimated annual two way-trade was around C$110 billion in 2007.

($1=$1.29 Canadian)

(Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Rob Wilson)