EU, Canada trade pact stalls on public services

Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:55am EDT
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By Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Talks about a free-trade pact between Europe and Canada stalled this week as negotiators disagreed on how to open public contracts and services markets to each other's operators.

It now seems unlikely a pact that could add billions to annual income and strengthen transatlantic ties will be signed this year as planned, people briefed on the issue said.

"It's moving, but it's slow. It's clear the delay is on the European side," Jason Langrish, director of the Canada Europe Round Table for Business, told Reuters.

EU trade officials declined to comment and the Canadian government did not respond to requests for comment.

The delay raises further doubts about a trade agreement that has come under increasing fire from political and campaign groups on both sides.

Some critics say a deal would boost the exploitation of controversial oil sands deposits in Canada; others reject the opening of sensitive sectors such as drinking water, health and defense to market competition on both sides.

But appetite among EU and Canadian businesses remains strong for a deal.