The following is a report of the Canada-U.S. Law Institute's Feb. 2015 Expert Roundtable held in Washington, D.C. The Roundtable focused on recent international trade liberalization initiatives as they relate to the Canada-U.S. trade relationship.
On February 19, 2015 the Canada-United States Law Institute (CUSLI) (2) hosted an expert roundtable discussion at the Public International Law and Policy Group offices in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the roundtable was to discuss Canada-U.S. trade issues in the context of emerging international trade deals. While there is typically very little friction between Canada and the U.S., there are differences between the two countries related to investment policy. Thus, participants sought to identify commonalities and divergences between Canadian and U.S. views as well as suggest how these divergences may be bridged or lead to different solutions.
The roundtable featured a number of distinguished experts in international trade, economics, and the Canada-U.S. relationship. The discussion focused on three multilateral trade agreements that are currently in the negotiation and ratification process and how these treaties may affect the Canada-US relationship and the broader global trade outlook. Roundtable participants discussed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) (3) between Canada and the European Union (EU), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) (4) between the U.S., Canada, and a number of Asia-Pacific states, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) (5) between the U.S. and the EU.
Several important themes emerged from the roundtable discussion. First, participants examined the likelihood of all necessary parties ratifying each agreement. This discussion touched on the important role of Canada's provinces in the negotiation and implementation process and the special difficulties posed by the EU. Second, participants noted the importance of regulatory harmonization in both the negotiation and implementation phases of the agreements. Third, participants debated the role of public procurement in the negotiation and implementation of Canada-U.S. agreements. Fourth, participants considered the challenges posed by dispute mechanisms incorporated in the agreements, including problems related to the jurisdiction of these mechanisms and problems specific to investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions. Fifth, participants discussed how developing states view, and are impacted by, multilateral agreements involving the U.S. and Canada. Finally, participants examined how the ratification and implementation of these agreements may eventually lead to the re-examination of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its governing instruments.
LIKELIHOOD OF RATIFICATION AND ADOPTION
The roundtable began with a nod towards the positive momentum currently fueling progress in transatlantic and transpacific trade agreements despite skepticism expressed by critics. Participants generally agreed that the U.S. was likely to sign the TTIP and the TPP before U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office. Participants thought that the TTIP faced more opposition in the EU than in the U.S., but noted that currently the U.S. is more focused on the TPP. Participants explained that the TTP and TTIP must overcome the general skepticism toward free trade agreements that many U.S. citizens hold, particularly in the fringes of...