A free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada could fall apart. The trade deal has been carefully negotiated and a lot of effort went into drawing it up. But there is the chance that it might not see the light of day. Those who are unhappy with the effects of free trade are trying to block the deal. There have been protests against the trade deal, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA. Some in EU countries feel that CETA works to the advantage of Canada. Protests in Belgium have tried to put an end to the deal.
Economic Protectionism Is Putting Free Trade in Peril
The reaction to the trade deal is the latest installment in a recent attitude to free trade. Although not new, views that free trade agreements are actually bad for a country’s economy have been circulating more and more frequently in the public arena. It looks like the times we find ourselves in are seeing a new kind of protectionism arise. Coming from the age of economic cooperation and bilateral trade agreements that led to prosperity, current attitudes are a departure from that. But it is true that people are more and more concerned about the chances of their own economy on the global market and keeping jobs in the country.
Economic protectionism seems to be on the rise. Unrelated trends in different countries point to a bigger picture where everybody seems to be interested in safe-guarding their own economy first. Average people have expressed, through their votes or through protests, their will on the issue. British citizens chose to no longer be part of the European Union in a referendum this June. The Brexit was a signal that the UK is increasingly going to consider its own interests. And that British affairs are going to take precedence. The success of Republican candidate, Donald J. Trump in the United States is another indicator of the fact that protectionism is on the rise. An open critic of free trade agreements, Trump called NAFTA the worst deal in history.
Trade Deal Faces Opposition in Belgium
The two side of the trade agreement are working together, trying to put concerns to rest. Canada and the European Union are still very much on course to making the trade deal a reality. But EU officials are facing opposition at home. In the meantime, Canadian officials are growing increasingly frustrated by the stagnating progress of the negotiations. This Friday, talks took place in Belgium, where the region of Wallonia is holding out against the deal. Since it looked like there was no moving forward, Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Trade Minister walked out of the talks.
Jeremy Kinsman is a former Canadian ambassador to the European Union. In an interview this Friday he talked about the opposition that the free trade agreement is facing.
“We’ve been bending over backwards trying to accommodate the new pockets of new nationalism, socialism, anti-globalism.”
Said Jeremy Kinsman.
Chrystia Freeland says that Canada is ready to sign the trade deal. Officials of the European Union hope that a last minute solution will make the deal possible.
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