Syndicated

The trade treaty this country is negotiating with the European Union –called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement — is a complex pact that’s hard to understand, and it doesn’t help that what’s going on is behind closed doors.

That hasn’t stopped the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) from praising the framework that was revealed last October when the two sides came to a tentative agreement. ITAC sees the lifting of tariffs — admittedly over a period of time — will be a great benefit to the IT sector here, a large exporter of software and hardware.

One major piece that has been holding up the final text – something that the IT sector is keeping an eye on – is wording on intellectual property rights, because laws between the jurisdictions differ. The section could give European IP owners the right to sue Canadian governments over laws and regulatory decisions here going against them. But a University of Ottawa law professor notes there are reports Canada is digging in its heels and refusing to allow intellectual property into the pact.

That’s good, he says. In brief, he and other argue that such provisions have nothing to do with trade.

A regulatory ruling against an IP holder can be protectionism. But critics say private companies have enough rights to sue through the courts without giving them the right to go after governments as well because a tribunal rules against them.

We’ll have to see if the reports are true and the provision is left out of CETA, or included — as it is with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

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