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Manley to warn Europe of damage if free-trade talks with Canada fail


 

OTTAWA – The head of Canada’s leading business organization is warning the European Union that its credibility will be damaged if the long-delayed free-trade deal with Canada breaks down.

That will be the underlying message that John Manley, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, delivers Friday in a speech in Ireland that he says is aimed at the entire 28-country European bloc that has been locked in four years of stalled trade talks with Canada.

Manley’s remarks are clearly intended as a shot back at the EU, whose senior officials have publicly blamed Canada for the failure to conclude a deal in recent months.

Manley said a failed Canada-EU process could discredit the Europeans moving forward in their coming negotiations with the United States, and he suggested it could fuel the simmering debate in the United Kingdom about pulling out of the EU.

“The most immediate price is in the message it sends to other potential trading partners, including the United States,” Manley said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Thursday.

In the summer, the former EU ambassador to Canada, Matthias Brinkmann, said a deal could have been reached in February but Canada would not agree. Brinkmann said getting a deal done “takes two to tango.”

Manley — a former Liberal finance and foreign affairs minister who is also well-respected by Conservatives — threw that phrase back at the Europeans.

“We’re perfectly happy to urge our government to knuckle down and get this done, but it takes two to tango,” said Manley.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper already faces political pressure to get the talks finished so he has something to show after branding his government as ardent free traders. As well, Europe’s free-trade negotiations with the U.S. are ramping up in October, which could push the Canadian talks to the back burner — something the Europeans frequently point out.

Manley said he wants his European audience to understand that a failed negotiation with Canada could hurt them as well.

“I think the message that they send is very negative if they can’t conclude a deal with a country that has staked its reputation on being open to liberalized trade.”

In his speech to the Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce and the Ireland Business Association, Manley will tell his audience that EU negotiators are “not feeling much pressure” from some European governments to reach a deal.

Moreover, Manley will tell his audience that the EU has yet to sign major trade deal with a large advanced economy.

Harper told a business forum in New York on Thursday that he’s “deeply involved” in the final stages of the talks with Europe.

“I’ve become aware in more detail of the various needs of all these sectors than I ever thought I would need to know,” Harper said.

“Getting a free-trade deal with Europe is quite frankly the No. 1 trade priority of the government right now; we’re in the final stages of that,” the prime minister added.

“We’ve been there for some time, but we are making progress and if we could do that we would be one of the very few, certainly the only advanced economy with free-trade access to both the United States and the European Union.”

But Harper needs someone senior from the European side, perhaps European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, to sit down with him, Manley added.

He said Canada needs to see more signs of a “coherent approach” from Europe.

“We can’t get to the finish line and be told that countries are holding out for reasons completely unrelated to the negotiations, which is one of the rumours out there.”

Manley will be speaking in a country that is one of Europe’s major beef producers.

Beef and pork has been one of the biggest obstacles to a deal, but as The Canadian Press recently reported the two sides recently settled — tentatively — on a quota that is big enough to allow Canadian meat producers to penetrate the European market.

“What’s significant is that Ireland is one of the countries we’ve all heard has been difficult to get to signing off on the deal,” Manley said.

“Neither am I authorized nor do I have the knowledge to get into the details of the negotiations in a sector. But I would say that if it’s true that the Irish government is one of the countries to yet to really sign off on this, then it’s not a bad venue to be delivering a message.”

Manley’s comments provide some measure of political cover to Harper should the deal fall through.

Though he is a former Liberal minister, he is seen as being close to Harper especially after serving as the head of the Conservative government’s commission on the future of the Afghanistan mission several years ago.


 
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Manley to warn Europe of damage if free-trade talks with Canada fail

  1. The good news is that we haven’t threatened China yet today….just the US and the EU.

  2. Obviously the Harper gov is too full of itself .

  3. What empty political posturing. No mention of Canada’s supply chain management? The system that effectively doubles the price of milk, cheese and eggs for Canadians and slaps a 300% tariff on the price of imported butter?

    Or Canada’s long compromised patent protection of pharmaceuticals? Those laws that have been key to the wealth of some of the richest people in Canada and given Canadians some of the highest priced generic drugs in the world?

    We live in Europe now and are having some guests from Canada stay for the next few days. We’re planning a BBQ tomorrow — with steaks imported from Argentina, they are definitely better than European beef, even the fabled Angus beef. I would love to see Canadian beef here.

    Here is a hint Manley – if the EU wants hormone free beef – offer that to them. The EU market is actually larger than the American market and the food supply chain is safer too.

    • Thank-you! Same boat as yourself and have family in Canada. Canadians sometimes need to get beyond their navel gazing. Diary products in Canada are a joke. I also am sad not to see Canadian beef! Like yourself I see American beef, Argentinian beef, even Brazil, but no Canadian! NOT GOOD!

  4. wow what dumb comments. I have my foot in both “countries” and know both “countries” extremely well. The reality is that Manly is playing a game that they will not win at. Here is the reality the EU and the US will work together if they can because it is in their interests.

    The US has many companies and business activities in the EU, and the EU has many companies and business activities in the US. They can only work together. The problem that Canada will have is that when, and I repeat when the EU and US do a trade deal Canada will be the big loser.

    Let me illustrate. Canada and the US have beef exports. When the EU and the US make a deal the American beef exporters will get preferential treatment and force the EU to reject or put high duties on Canadian beef. Don’t believe me, think hard about this, will Americans want competition in the EU from Canada? And how about vice versa. When the EU does a deal with the US, do you really think the EU will want competition from Canada?

    The US will not care about Canada because it is about business. American business likes Canada so long as Canada gives them an advantage in terms of business. I am not American’s are bad, but am saying at the end of the day it is about business and I don’t hold that against the Americans or the EU. I do hold it against Canada that their self pride and ego yet again stops them from moving forward.

    Now before one complains about the EU, remember about the diary boards of Canada and how that is holding back the Canadian diary industry. Living in Europe and being regularly in Canada I find it a joke on what Canadians think is a good diary industry.

    BTW the UK will never pull out of the EU! The resistance by the people would be too high. Not saying that the UK will adopt the Euro, but they will never pull out of the EU.

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