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Joint statement by Minister Freeland and France抯 Minister of State Matthias Fekl: Opportunities for sustainable tradeFriday, October 14, 2016 > 08:58:56
(Global Affairs Canada)
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade of Canada, and Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of the French Republic, today issued the following statement:
The governments of Canada and France support international trade and are both working to promote progressive trade agreements.
Beyond possible gains in growth, innovation and employment, trade must also become a powerful tool for promoting the strongest social and environmental standards. We believe this goal should be promoted in bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral forums of negotiation. We are moving in this direction with the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, and we hope to continue this progress.
Canada and France have identified three main challenges, which we intend to respond to in a coordinated manner by consulting and working together in appropriate forums: the democratic challenge, the environmental challenge, and the social challenge.
The democratic environment must be strong in order to sustain the legitimacy of rules governing global trade. We believe that in the information era, trade negotiations can be more transparent and more inclusive. We need to make more information available on all of the issues under discussion. Negotiations must also be inclusive from the outset and involve stakeholders, civil society and legislatures. Throughout negotiations, CETA has offered this opportunity to strengthen consultation mechanisms with the Canadian provinces. It is essential that concerned parties be included throughout the process to preserve the legitimacy of international trade policies and ensure that issues of public interest are considered.
Establishing a standard for sustainable international trade also means addressing environmental challenges. Following the success of the Paris Agreement at COP21, whose entry into force we are collectively working on, trade agreements must respect environmental commitments. CETA encourages the ratification and implementation of major international environmental conventions. With respect to standards, trade agreements must also guarantee existing international norms and raise the bar higher. We believe that international trade can provide a framework to ensure that economic development and environmental standards go hand in hand.
In addition, for international trade to benefit as many people as possible, we must also address social challenges. Free trade has different effects—depending on a person’s skills, their professional field and where they live—that demand ambitious, flexible and responsive policies. As with the environment, we believe trade agreements should advance social standards and set rigorous norms that will contribute to stronger social rights, including workers’ rights.
We share a vision of trade that is defined by modern, high standards, much like the permanent investment tribunal that was created for the first time by the European Union and Canada for CETA. This should serve as the first step toward a multilateral public investment tribunal that we aim to promote together.
Trade is not an end in itself: we must move away from a simplistic view that seeks only to increase the flow of trade. Trade, social progress and environmental protections must, and can, go hand in hand, in support of sustainable development. We are committed to working together on this front.