Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Legal Review of 'Gold-Plated' Canada-EU Trade Deal Complete: Feds

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Legal Review of 'Gold-Plated' Canada-EU Trade Deal Complete: Feds

Article excerpt

Legal scrub of Canada-EU trade pact complete

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OTTAWA - The federal government says the legal review of the free-trade deal with the European Union has been completed -- and the door is open for the pact to come into force early next year.

The agreement, known as CETA, was negotiated under the former Conservative government, but International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday that the Liberals were strongly supportive of the accord while in opposition.

"This is a gold-plated trade deal," Freeland told The Canadian Press in an interview.

"This is a true, high-level, 21st-century trade agreement, which is going to open up tremendous economic opportunity for Canadians."

An agreement in principle was reached on the comprehensive deal in October 2013. Canada and the 28-member EU negotiated the deal between 2009 and 2014.

Freeland said CETA will be signed later this year and she expects implementation early in 2017. Ratification will give Canada access to a market of 500 million people.

The legal-scrubbing process led to modifications in the deal, including changes Freeland said would strengthen the right of governments to regulate in their own national interests. She listed areas such as labour and the environment as examples.

She said the changes will help ensure that when a company does business outside its own borders, it will be treated in the same way as a local firm.

The adjustments also addressed sticking points identified by the Europeans, Freeland said.

"We were sympathetic to the European concerns and we absolutely welcome the modifications," Freeland said.

The changes, she added, have also allowed for a permanent dispute-settlement tribunal and an appeal system.

Earlier this month, Canada's chief negotiator Steve Verhuel told a parliamentary committee that Ottawa was working with the EU to revise CETA's controversial investor protection provisions.

Verhuel said Ottawa was exploring whether improvements could make the dispute-resolution mechanism more favourable to Canada. …

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