Monday, April 5, 2010

Ontario procurement issue for European/Canada free trade deal

Just in case you thought the Canada/European trade agreement or CETA was all about intellectual property (a view which I'm sure would surprise the negotiators ;) )...

here's an article by Doug Saunders in the Globe about another major issue: an agreement by the provinces to stop giving preferential treatment to provincial or Canadian companies in government procurement.

If you read the background documents to the negotiations, a major concern on the European side was to have the provinces bound by the agreement, specifically in respect of procurement. The Ontario government - which was singled out by the Europeans, albeit probably because it is the largest province - is apparently only in reluctant agreement, and is dragging its feet on the details.

The key paragraph from the article:

"Officials from Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government say their work is taking longer than other provinces because of the complexity of Ontario’s government programs, but that they remain committed to a deal in principle. Nevertheless, Canadian negotiators fear a repeat of a 2005 attempt at a Canada-EU pact, when the lack of a unified position among 11 Canadian governments led to the Europeans walking away."

The article states that other than Ottawa's ability to deliver the provinces, the Europeans think the negotiations are going "surprisingly well".

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