Canada, Europe hail trade pact in Trump era

Medicine Hat News - - NATION -

Law­mak­ers in Canada and Europe are hail­ing Wed­nes­day’s ap­proval of the Canada-EU free trade deal by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment as a win for the val­ues of open­ness in the face of anti-trade move­ments, in­clud­ing the Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The leg­is­la­ture in Stras­bourg, France, ap­proved the Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic and Trade Agree­ment by a mar­gin of 408-254, with 33 ab­sten­tions. The vote clears a ma­jor hur­dle for the deal that saw its first round of bar­gain­ing al­most eight years ago and has had to over­come mount­ing anti-trade pop­ulism in Europe.

Canada’s Par­lia­ment is also ex­pected to rat­ify the deal in the com­ing months, which means 90 per cent of it would come into force un­der pro­vi­sional ap­pli­ca­tion — a key pro­ce­dural step that al­lows the deal to take ef­fect with­out the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Euro­pean Union’s 28 mem­ber coun­tries and nu­mer­ous re­gional gov­ern­ments.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau was en route to France to de­liver his own pro­trade mes­sage in an ad­dress Thurs­day to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, a first for a Cana­dian leader, and to speak to top busi­ness lead­ers a day later in Ger­many.

On his way into a cau­cus meet­ing ear­lier Wed­nes­day, Trudeau sang the praises of the deal as ev­i­dence of the mer­its of glob­al­iza­tion.

“I think it’s an il­lus­tra­tion that when you put for­ward a pro­gres­sive trade deal that takes into ac­count the re­spon­si­bil­ity of gov­ern­ments to cre­ate good mid­dle-class jobs, cre­ate in­clu­sive growth — not just for a few, but for ev­ery­one — (and) that fo­cuses on the mid­dle class, we can move for­ward on glob­al­iza­tion.”

In­ter­na­tional Trade Min­is­ter Fran­cois-Philippe Cham­pagne, who was al­ready in Stras­bourg ahead of the vote, called it “the right deal at the right time.”

“Good for work­ers, con­sumers and a new stan­dard for trade.”

EU Trade Com­mis­sioner Ce­cilia Malm­strom took di­rect aim at anti-glob­al­iza­tion forces in re­marks to Par­lia­ment, in what ap­peared to be a thinly veiled re­but­tal to Trump’s pro­tec­tion­ist and anti-im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies.

“With Canada we share the demo­cratic val­ues of tol­er­ance and open­ness,” Malm­strom said. “We co­op­er­ate in tack­ling com­mon chal­lenges such as mi­gra­tion, sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, cli­mate change and ter­ror­ism.”

CETA, as well as its com­pan­ion strate­gic part­ner­ship agree­ment, would strengthen not only Canada-EU eco­nomic re­la­tions but our “geopo­lit­i­cal al­liance ... mak­ing that part­ner­ship deeper and more pow­er­ful, reaf­firm­ing our fun­da­men­tal val­ues, po­lit­i­cal prin­ci­ples, and us­ing them to shape glob­al­iza­tion.”

The deal will help each side “serve its cit­i­zens” in the 21st cen­tury, Malm­strom added.

For­mer prime min­is­ter Stephen Harper, whose gov­ern­ment opened the long ne­go­ti­a­tions that led to the agree­ment, wel­comed the Euro­pean vote with a tweet: “Pleased to fi­nally see the Euro­peans rat­ify our CETA free-trade deal,” he wrote. “Good news for Canada and the Cana­dian econ­omy.”

Ex-Que­bec pre­mier Jean Charest, one of the most ar­dent pro­mot­ers of the free­trade deal from the out­set, said Trump’s pro­tec­tion­ist ten­den­cies and the United King­dom’s de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union made the sig­na­ture of the agree­ment all that more im­por­tant.

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