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Canada, EU reach deal on free trade agreement

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website; JURIST news archive] announced [press release] on Friday that Canada and the EU have reached an agreement in principle on a comprehensive free trade agreement. The Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) [official website] has been in negotiations since 2009. The PM's press release states:

The Agreement will provide Canada with preferential market access to the European Union's more than 500 million consumers. Canadian workers in every region of the country—including in sectors such as fish and seafood; chemicals and plastics; metal and mineral products; technology; forestry and value-added wood products; automotive; advanced manufacturing; and agriculture and agri-food—stand to benefit significantly from increased access to this lucrative 28 country market which currently generates $17 trillion in annual economic activity.
In addition, the press release states that CETA will lead to the elimination of "approximately 98 percent of all EU tariffs" between the EU and Canada. The agreement still must undergo legal review and be ratified by the Canadian Parliament, the European Parliament [official websites] and the EU's 28 member states.

In March the Canadian government announced [JURIST report] that it is withdrawing from a UN convention intended to fight droughts in Africa. Harper claimed [CTV report] the move was necessary as the convention was "too bureaucratic" and that only one fifth of the CAN $350,000 contributed to the convention actually was used for programming. Canada becomes the only UN member state that is not a member of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) [official website]. In 2011 Canada was the first nation to withdraw [JURST report] from the Kyoto Protocol [text; JURIST news archive] on climate change. The decision to drop out of Kyoto was five years after they were subject to a series of lawsuits [JURIST report] for their failure to comply with the standards imposed by Kyoto.

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