[Ip-health] The Tyee: Leaked: Secret Final Draft of CETA Treaty
thiru at keionline.org
Thu Aug 14 03:04:31 PDT 2014
Leaked: Secret Final Draft of CETA Treaty
Groundbreaking deal in the works exposed in Germany. A Tyee first look.
By Andrea Rexer <http://thetyee.ca/Bios/Andrea_Rexer/>, Today, TheTyee.ca
For politicians in Canada and Europe this will be obligatory summer
reading: A large chunk of the final proposed text of the free trade
agreement CETA between Canada and the European Union, negotiated in secret,
was leaked <http://www.tagesschau.de/wirtschaft/ceta-dokument-101.pdf>
The whole treaty is said to have 1,500 pages. But the German Public
Television Station ARD has so far only put the first 521 pages online. The
appendix with detailed data is still missing.
The CETA (Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement) has been subject to
criticism from a wide range of groups, amongst them environmental movements
and globalization critics. Most opponents don't denounce free trade, but
question many other aspects that come along with the deal. Actually, only
about one third of the document discusses trade -- the rest is about
balancing power between governments and investors.
One controversial chapter is about investor rights (ISDS). It gives
investors the option to bypass the court system and settle conflicts in a
private and sometimes clandestine way. A first glimpse at the documents
shows that investor rights in the CETA deal are quite broadly defined, but
are not the same as under the North American Free Trade Agreement between
Canada, U.S. and Mexico (NAFTA). As a consequence of being part of NAFTA,
Canada has had to pay
more than $170 million so far in such settlements. Opponents of CETA fear
that those special rights undermine democracy because they weaken the power
of local and national governments. Investors might sue governments if their
regulation hinders investment.
The proponents of the deal say that those investor rights are necessary in
some European Countries, where the legal system isn't good enough -- e.g.
in countries like Rumania [sic], Bulgaria or Cypress [sic]. That's why
investors should have access to private settlement procedures.
The most prominent opponent of ISDS so far is the German government. In a
letter to the German parliament, the Ministry of Economics has said that it
"doesn't consider Investor Rights to be necessary in a trade deal between
countries with developed Legal Systems." That's why there had been rumours
that the Germans might oppose the deal, and might even stop it, but sources
that are close to the government in Berlin have said to The Tyee that the
Germans "are quite aware that they are not the only country inside Europe."
In other words: The Germans have accepted that they cannot stop the deal.
"We wouldn't be opposed to reducing tariffs. But this deal is about giving
rights to corporations," said Garry Neil, executive director of the Council
of Canadians in an interview with The Tyee.
Scott Sinclair of the Ottawa-based think tank Canadian Centre for Policy
Alternatives said: "The outcome of the deal is that corporations win and
citizens on both sides of the Atlantic lose."
*Treaty tilts in Europe's favour*
A first glimpse on the document shows that the treaty is more favorable to
the European Union than to Canada.
The main benefit for Europe is easy to name: Canada opens its public
procurements to European corporations. European companies are much stronger
when it comes to public tenders because there aren't as many Canadian
companies willing to bid in European public procurements.
The benefits for Canada are not as clearly defined. Canadian companies hope
to get better access on European markets -- though it's not clear that what
Canada gains here outweighs what it gives up.
Canada will open its dairy market and enlarge the import quota for cheese.
A source close to the negotiations told The Tyee that Canada now imports
about five per cent of its dairy products and that if CETA is implemented,
that figure will rise to about nine per cent. The Canadian consumers may
benefit in lower prices and more variety in dairy consumption. The losers,
however, might be Canadian dairy producers whose income is likely to fall.
Other agricultural producers in Canada stand to benefit from the treaty.
Europe has agreed to open its market for fish and meat. Many European
consumers, however, are resistant to buying North American meat. They are
afraid that it doesn't meet their quality standards, especially when cattle
are treated with hormones.
Overall, Canada's trade deficit with the EU is likely increase further.
Preliminary studies compiled earlier by the European Commission and the
Canadian government show CETA would allow Canada to increase
<http://thetyee.ca/News/2014/08/13/CETA-challenges.pdf> its exports of
goods and services to the EU by 12.5 billion dollars while the EU would be
able to increase its exports to Canada by 25 billion dollars.
Canada has also committed to lengthen patent protection for drugs, which
might cost public healthcare annually $800 million more, according to the
CCPA. The reason for the higher cost is that generics will come later into
the market, the monopoly protection for pharma industry is longer with CETA.
*More to come*
If the Europeans would gain more from the deal, Canadians would profit as
well. Both sides pushing the deal hope it will create new jobs, and that
the economy will grow faster in all countries. Not even the opponents doubt
that some CETA provision will produce benefits, but the debate lies in how
big, and how fairly, such benefits might be.
These are notes drawn from a first scan of the leaked treaty language. In
the coming days, The Tyee will report more in detail about the treaty and
how it will affect consumers and citizens in Canada and Europe. Next up,
for example: How will CETA affect local buying provisions for public
institutions in Canada?
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