Trade talks with EU said to be in final stages

Trade talks with the European Union have entered an “intense” stage with only specific issues needing to be hammered out, Trade Minister Ed Fast said Tuesday. And perhaps somewhat of a surprise is that the issue of opening up provincial government procurement to outside bidders doesn’t appear to be a sticking point, with both Ontario and B.C. ministers suggesting they are on board.

OTTAWA — Trade talks with the European Union have entered an “intense” stage with only specific issues needing to be hammered out, Trade Minister Ed Fast said Tuesday. And perhaps somewhat of a surprise is that the issue of opening up provincial government procurement to outside bidders doesn’t appear to be a sticking point, with both Ontario and B.C. ministers suggesting they are on board. Fast said reaching an agreement with Europe and its 500 million consumers and $17-trillion economy is Canada’s top trade priority, bigger than China, India or the newly forming Trans-Pacific Partnership. According to a government analysis, a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU could boost the country’s gross domestic product output by $12 billion annually, and create 80,000 new jobs. “We are now into very intense negotiations on the specific issues that remain to be negotiated, on a sector by sector basis,” Fast told reporters after a closed-door meeting with provincial counterparts in Ottawa. “It will likely be the most ambitious agreement that either one of the two parties has ever entered into.” Since talks began in the autumn of 2009, Canada and the EU have conducted nine formal rounds of negotiations and Fast said he doesn’t anticipate a 10th. But the minister would not confirm reports that a deal could be reached as early as April. Instead, he suggested dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s may take longer than anticipated. It is unclear how much provincial resistance can thwart a deal, although Fast has made much of the fact that the Canada-EU talks have been the most co-operative and transparent with regards to the provinces and municipalities in history.

Just Posted

Improving life for people with Alzheimer’s and their families is a priority for Raitt

The federal Conservatives deputy leader is dealing with the disease in her own home

Snowfall warning issued for Central Alberta

Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for Central Alberta Friday afternoon. Warning… Continue reading

POLL: Most people don’t want cell phones in the classroom

Sixty-six per cent of Advocate readers who responded to an on-line poll… Continue reading

Grassroots movement to clean up Red Deer is gaining momentum

Homeless people need more attention than shopping carts, says former councillor Cindy Jefferies

Lacombe cracks down on messy properties

Crackdown to target longstanding offenders

Updated: Grey Cup in Red Deer to raise funds for military families

Money raised will go to the Military Family Resource Centre and be used locally

Mistrial denied in Calgary murder trial over jury’s visit to hotel Denny’s

CALGARY — A Calgary judge has denied a request for a mistrial… Continue reading

Former Canadian astronaut says space shuttle is a vehicle of hope

OTTAWA — Sending messages of hope from space is a big part… Continue reading

Canada requests trade panel on uncoated groundwood paper ruling by U.S.

OTTAWA — Canada has requested a NAFTA trade panel review a U.S.… Continue reading

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

SURREY, B.C. — Three First Nations in British Columbia gathered today to… Continue reading

Tail with a happy ending: Dog rescued from fighting ring, ready for police work

Dallas’s ear-to-ear grin and bright brown eyes seem to sparkle with joy.… Continue reading

Liberal leader doubles down on notion that $75 weekly grocery bill is possible

MONTREAL — One day after being ridiculed for saying it was possible… Continue reading

Jury resumes deliberating man’s guilt in Calgary mother of four’s death

CALGARY — Jurors are continuing to deliberate the guilt of a man… Continue reading

Ontario finance minister projects $15B deficit for province

TORONTO — Ontario’s finance minister said the province will have to make… Continue reading

Most Read