Although a proponent of free trade, Canada has, until recently, lagged behind its trading partners in negotiating a network of bilateral and regional trade agreements. In 2007, Canada enunciated a “Global Commerce Strategy”, which signalled a re-invigoration of its efforts to engage in bilateral and regional trade negotiations as a means of securing Canada’s growth and prosperity. This strategy continues to be a key plank in the current government’s economic plan to maintain Canada’s comparative global advantage. In addition to the NAFTA, Canada is currently a party to preferential trade agreements with the following countries;
- a. Colombia (in force as of August 15, 2011);
- b. Peru (in force as of August 1, 2009);
- c. the European Free Trade Association (in force as of July 1, 2009);
- d. Costa Rica (in force as of November 1, 2002);
- e. Chile (in force as of July 5, 1997); and
Canada has signed agreements with both Jordan and Colombia, but these agreements are not yet in force. What is more telling than the agreements that are currently executed, are the countries with which Canada has entered into negotiations or exploratory discussions. Canada is currently at various stages of pursuing preferential trading arrangements with Morocco, Korea, the Andean Community, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Dominican Republic, the Central Four American Countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), Singapore, India, Japan and Ukraine. Canada has recently concluded such negotiations with Honduras. Canada is also actively engaged in negotiations for a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union.
The scope of Canada’s trade agreements and negotiations vary from comprehensive to merely incorporating the substantive obligations of the WTO with laudatory language regarding future negotiations. While all of Canada’s recent trade agreements address such issues as investment, the environment and labour standards, the manner by which these obligations are imposed, differ from agreement to agreement. Negotiations with the European Union are aimed at increasing the scope of Canada’s trade agreements beyond traditional market access issues to include areas such as competition, mutual recognition of professional services, small and medium-sized enterprises, and science and technology. As a result of the larger scope of these negotiations, at the request of the European Union, for the first time, the provinces and territories are direct participants in the negotiations where they relate to areas under their competencies.
Additional posts from the blog
On April 7, 2014, the Minister of the Environment issued a Notice with respect to hydrofluorocarbons (the “Notice”), pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The Notice imposes reporting requirements on those who imported, exported, or manufactured certain hydrofluorocarbons (“HFCs”) from 2008 and 2012. A non-exhaustive list of HFCs subject to these reporting requirements can be found in Schedule 1 of the Notice.
In an interesting decision, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled that an employer is not liable for discriminatory and harassing texts sent by a rogue employee to another of its workers.
On April 8, 2014, Canada’s government introduced Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act, in the Senate. Bill S-4 is the federal government’s latest attempt to reform the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”). It would be a mistake to say that it is largely recycled from the government’s last attempt to reform PIPEDA in 2011 through Bill C-12, which died on the order paper. Here’s what’s different, what’s been dropped, and what seems to be largely the same. Caveat: This is a first read!