Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rising Protectionism Complicating Softwood, Canada-EU Trade Deal: Feds

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rising Protectionism Complicating Softwood, Canada-EU Trade Deal: Feds

Article excerpt

Protectionism complicating key talks: feds


HANGZHOU, China - Concerns about the impact of protectionist sentiments on key Canadian trade talks led senior government members to dedicate some of their scarce face time to the issue Sunday with G20 peers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself was expected to discuss the subject when he met with European leaders on the margins of the G20 leaders' summit in China, International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

Freeland noted that growing movements against trade liberalization have complicated always-delicate talks with the United States on softwood lumber.

These attitudes, she added, have also affected Canada's push to sign a free trade deal with the European Union, also known as CETA.

"The prime minister is using his time here -- it's very valuable, lots of European countries (are) of course members of the G20 -- to push for CETA to get it over the finish line," said Freeland, who travelled to China with Trudeau for the gathering of the world's biggest economies.

Trudeau's office said he had a brief "pull aside" chat with to discuss CETA with European Council president Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president.

Growing anti-trade sentiments on both sides of Atlantic are certainly a factor in Ottawa's dealings with U.S. and Europe, Freeland said.

She was encouraged by Juncker's remarks about CETA on Sunday at the summit in Hangzhou.

He called it the "best and most-progressive agreement" the European Union had ever negotiated and said it deserved the full support of member states and rapid ratification.

Canada and the EU have committed to signing the deal this year and ratification in 2017.

Still, Ottawa isn't taking anything for granted, Freeland said.

"There is strong support, but it is going to be very important to work hard with Europeans to talk about the progressive elements in this deal," she said.

"This is a deal that will be very important for Canada and we're just working very, very hard, assuming nothing."

A senior government source said Ottawa is aware of constraints in countries like Austria and Germany. …

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