Canada-EU free trade deal near

TORONTO — The European Union and Canada hope to conclude a free trade deal in the “coming days,” an EU official said Wednesday.

TORONTO — The European Union and Canada hope to conclude a free trade deal in the “coming days,” an EU official said Wednesday.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also posted on his official Twitter account that Canada will “soon” complete negotiations. Harper has long said a deal was close, but an official in his office said further progress has been made. The EU went further.

“Discussions are indeed continuing at the highest level between the EU and Canada towards a comprehensive free trade deal (CETA) — with the hope to conclude the negotiations in the coming days,” EU Trade spokesman John Clancy said in an email.

Yves Leduc, director of international trade for the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said he’s been told by a Canadian government official that an agreement in principle has been reached and that the European Union’s 28 members and Canada’s 10 provinces have to approve it.

Canada has agreed to permit a doubling of the EU quota on cheese exports to Canada in exchange for greater access for Canadian beef and pork producers. Leduc said Canada’s cheese industry is angry because it threatens the fine cheese market in Canada.

“For the dairy farmers of Canada this is a deal that is unacceptable. We’re more than disappointed,” Leduc said. “It will allow significant access of high quality or fine cheeses into Canada, a segment that is supplied by the smaller or medium size cheese factories in Canada.”

Harper has said that a free trade deal between his country and the European Union could help the EU establish a beachhead as they embark on separate free trade talks with the U.S. If a U.S.-EU trade deal is reached, it could be the world’s largest free trade pact.

Canada hopes to diversify Canada’s trade away from the U.S., the country’s largest trading partner. Canada’s finance minister has said despite Europe’s struggles, Canada remains very interested because the EU is still the largest market in the world in terms of the size of its middle class. The Canada-EU deal would make it easier for Canadian companies to invest in, and sell to, the 17-member EU with its 500 million consumers.

In 2012, Canada was the EU’s 12th most important trading partner, accounting for 1.8 per cent of the EU’s external trade. The EU was Canada’s second biggest partner with about 9.5 per cent of external trade.

The value of the bilateral trade in goods between the EU and Canada was $84 billion in 2012, according to the EU. The EU says machinery, transport equipment and chemicals dominate the EU’s exports to Canada.

The trade agreement, on which talks were first launched in 2009, seeks to lower or erase tariffs and facilitate mutual market access for trade in goods, services and investment. It aims at making it easier for companies to bid for government contracts in the other economy.

The trade negotiations with the U.S., in turn, are still in an early stage and suffered a minor setback last week when the U.S. side had to cancel a long-planned negotiation round in Brussels because of the government shutdown. About 100 officials were set to travel to Belgium for the talks. The next round is likely to take place next month.

————

Associated Press reporter Juergen Baetz in Brussels contributed to this report.

Just Posted

Court to rule on B.C.’s pipeline permit law in crucial case for Trans Mountain

VANCOUVER — A court will rule today if a proposed British Columbia… Continue reading

Theresa May: A prime minister defined and defeated by Brexit

LONDON — Theresa May became prime minister in 2016 with one overriding… Continue reading

SpaceX launches 60 little satellites, 1st of thousands

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX has launched 60 little satellites, the first… Continue reading

Cross-Canada corridor concept getting dusted off ahead of election

OTTAWA — The notion of a pan-Canadian corridor dedicated to rail, power… Continue reading

RCMP investigate suspicious package in downtown Red Deer

Part of downtown Red Deer was closed to traffic due to a… Continue reading

Dogs and drugs don’t mix: Red Deer business wants to leave downtown after 18 years

One business owner is done with downtown Red Deer after 18 years.… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

O Canada: Hockey hotbed now produces tennis players, too

ROME — It’s typically Canadian that Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Bianca… Continue reading

Proctor back chasing running records after cross-Canada speed attempt

CALGARY — Dave Proctors’ attempted speed record across Canada last summer was… Continue reading

Big names headed to New Mexico to film ‘The Comeback Trail’

SANTA FE, N.M. — Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones… Continue reading

Lawyer: Deal close in Weinstein sexual misconduct lawsuits

NEW YORK — A tentative deal has been reached to settle multiple… Continue reading

Seniors: The unheard melodies

The sights and sounds around us enable us to experience our world.… Continue reading

Police find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River

RCMP find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River Red… Continue reading

North Vancouver RCMP seek skier whose pole caused brain injury to B.C. teen

VANCOUVER — A North Vancouver family is joining with RCMP to urge… Continue reading

Most Read