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Quebec leads Canada - EU free-trade negotiations

Jean Charest


Quebec is the most open Canadian province for free trade with Europe. The Liberal government in Quebec works hard to reach a deal with Europe. The Quebec Prime Minister Jean Charest believes that the benefits for Canada will be great. Free trade simultaneously with EU and US will make Canada entrepôt between two of the largest economies in the world.

Until recently, the Europeans were not interested in free trade deal with Canada, mainly because of the interprovincial barriers and the Canadian old-fashioned nationalist policy against the direct foreign investment. However, the economic crisis urged Europe to think seriously about a new trade pact. The first step toward a possible Canada-EU trade deal came in 2007 when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and German Chancellor Angela Merkel signed a declaration in favour of closer co-operation.

The chief negotiator for Quebec, Pierre-Marc Johnson, said today in Montreal (18 November 2009) that he is hoping Canada and EU to sign a deal in 2011. "We want to go beyond tariff issues and free trade in goods and services and tackle technical and administrative barriers to trade, reciprocity, labour flexibility, education, government purchasing and competition policies, technology, research, investment, capital flows, the environment and market access," said Johnson.

He thinks that Quebec will have real advantages in developing closer liberalized ties with Europe and an agreement could boost its gross domestic product by almost one per cent. Johnson admitted that Quebec has more to gain from such deal than Europe does. He expects Canada to see a 0.77 per cent increase in gross domestic product, compared with 0.08 per cent for Europe.


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