Sunday, 23 October 2016

Canada-EU trade deal vetoed by Wallonian regional parliament

Belgium's Wallonian regional parliament has vetoed the EU-Canada trade deal (CETA), finally putting an end to 7 years of fruitless negotiations and drawing scathing criticism from the Canadians who have declared the EU impossible to do business with.

The UK accounts for more than a quarter of Canada's total trade with the EU and is Canada's fourth largest trading partner. Excluding the UK, only six EU countries feature in Canada's top 20 trading partners. CETA was very much a UK+EU treaty and many experts believe that trade negotiators will simply chop out the EU bits and present that as a trade agreement for the UK only. With an estimated 15-20% increase in trade on both sides expected from CETA, it's hard to believe that Canada wouldn't grasp the opportunity with both hands.

One thing the collapse of CETA has shown us is just how wrong Project Fear was when it claimed that we needed the EU to do our trade deals for us because we're so small and insignificant. The EU has a terrible track record for agreeing trade deals thanks in no small part to the irreconcilable problem of having to satisfy 28 competing sets of priorities. Our Commonwealth partners can't wait to start trade negotiations whilst our so-called friends in the EU are still competing with each other to see who can get the most publicity for threatening to block any EU-UK trade deal and undermine our financial services sector.

The EU's inability to sign trade agreements might hold up and EU-UK trade deal but as it will almost certainly involve paying billions into the EU's coffers for the "privilege" of trading with the world's fastest declining economic bloc, we only stand to gain from trading under WTO tariffs anyway.