The current Conservative government under Stephen Harper is engaged in talks with European officials to begin negotiating an agreement to integrate Canada's economy with those of the 27 nations of the European Union. Components of the plan include:
→ Unrestricted trade in goods, services
→ Removal of tariffs
→ Free movement of skilled people
→ Open market in government services and procurement- Canadian governments will allow European companies to bid as equals on government contracts for goods and services
If successful, this means that Canada will be the first developed nation to have open trade relations with the EU, with open borders between the members but imposing steep trade and investment barriers on outsiders:
Harper has decided not to release the complete study of the proposal until after the election.
In their newly released elections platform, the Liberals have affirmed their commitment to free trade. The Liberals plan to:
→ Strengthen trade relationships with the US
→ Diversify trade so Canada can protect itself from the impact the fall of the American dollar; increase exports to and investments in growing economies such as China and India
→ Commit to multilateral negations through the WTO
→ Pursue bilateral trade agreements that reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers
→ Consider the environment, human rights, and corporate social responsibility in all free trade negations
Jack Layton plans to enter renewed talks regarding NAFTA with the US with the priority of saving and protecting Canadian jobs.
The NDP priorities include:
→ Renegotiating NAFTA chapter 6, which currently limits Canada's control over its own energy resources; and NAFTA chapter 11- which currently allows foreign investors to challenge Canada's right to make laws to protect Canadian interests
→ Correcting NAFTA's deeply flawed dispute resolution mechanisms
→ Requiring strong labor and environmental standards in every trade deal Canada signs.
→ Exploring opportunities for a model fair-trade deal with the European Union
Based on their newly released elections platform, the Green party's plans for trade include:
→ Considering human rights, the environment, and sovereignty
→ Immediately providing the required six months notice of withdrawal from NAFTA
→ Renegotiating bilateral trade agreements
→ Reforming the WTO, IMF and World Bank to place these institutions under the authority of the UN General Assembly, and shift the direction of international trade from free trade to fair trade
→ Negotiating a new multilateral agreement on corporate rights and responsibilities
| Bloc Québécois|
→ The Bloc believes in free trade, but also believes that free trade is not the answer to everything as inequalities among countries have increased, and the gap between the rich and the poor within countries has increased.
→ The Bloc supports the idea of creating a support fund for the structural development of the Southern Hemisphere.
→ The Bloc also believes that any free trade agreements must include and respect human and labor rights, and the protection of the environment.
sources: The Bloc Québécois, the Green Party, the Liberal Party, globeandmail.com, TheStar.com, the NDP