Trade deal has some unpleasant surprises

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Last week, thanks to some investigative reporting by the Canadian Press, we learned that Stephen Harper has hoodwinked us yet again — this time on the Canada-European Union trade deal.

Turns out that CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) has been set up so that exporters in Europe will save a lot more on duty than their Canadian counterparts.

In fact, and contrary to what Trade Minister Ed Fast has been spoon-

feeding business crowds since the deal was signed in principle, European exporters will save about three times the amount of duty payments.

Whoa. No wonder his nickname is “Fast Eddy.”

According to the Canadian Press report, EU exporters will save more than $670 million annually in duty payments. That compares to just $225 million annually for Canada.

But wait, it gets worse.

New bidders

Perhaps the most egregious part of this latest trade deal is a far-reaching provision that would, for the first time, bind municipalities to international rules affecting how local governments spend public money.

That’s right, local content or local hiring policies attached to contracts, or occasional “Buy Canadian” rules would be banned. Under CETA, we might as well kiss “buy local” bye-bye.

Leaks coming out of Europe also reveal that CETA would encourage and lock in privatization of vital public services, like water and wastewater systems — a key demand of powerful European multinational water corporations.

Like NAFTA, the free trade agreement before it (remember Danny Williams and AbitibiBowater?), CETA will also give European corporations the right to sue governments for decisions that affect the profitability of their investments. If CETA is signed, European investors will be able to challenge public regulation and decision-making and sue Canadian governments at all three levels for compensation. The silver lining is that while Stephen Harper may have signed the agreement-in-principle in a photo-op in Brussels, we still have two years to fight this deal and the threat it poses

to public services and our local economies.

Wayne Lucas

CUPE NL president

St. John’s

Organizations: Canadian Press, EU

Geographic location: Europe, Brussels

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  • On Board
    November 10, 2013 - 09:14

    Lucas provides some pretty compelling reasons to sign this thing - more competition (which benefits consumers) and more government accountability (something governments have only provided in lip service).