Canada's CETA Opponents to Insist on Investment Court System Removal

Canada's Green Party will do utmost to remove a clause on the Investment Court System (ICS) allowing corporations to sue governments if their investments seem to be negatively affected from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, a spokesman for the party told Sputnik Tuesday.

A demonstrator with red paint is detained by police officers during a protest against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a EU-Canada free trade agreement, outside the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, October 30, 2016. - Sputnik International
EU-Canada CETA 'Ticking Time Bomb' Trade Deal Facing Growing Opposition
MOSCOW (Sputnik) On Monday, Canadian International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland introduced CETA to the House of Commons in Ottawa, a day after it was signed in Brussels by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

"Elizabeth May [the leader of Canada's Greens] will continue to advocate for the removal of ICS/ISDS [the investor-state dispute settlement] provisions in CETA – and other international trade deals – during debate in the House in the coming days," Dan Palmer said.

He added that the party was still concerned with the ICS provisions embedded in CETA. ICS, previously known under the name of Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), is a system of protection of investments, which lets corporations challenge government decisions affecting their investments bypassing the European Court of Justice and national courts.

"Should CETA be ratified by Canada and the EU, it would be the first step in a massive expansion and solidification of the role of the foreign investor protection system in the world – to be followed potentially by TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement among 12 Asia Pacific countries, excluding China] and TTIP [the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership]. Critics continue to be concerned that CETA may also shape proposals for a multilateral investment court that might one day consolidate existing ISDS mechanisms," Palmer stressed.

ICS was one of the stumbling blocks that prevented three Belgium regions from endorsing the deal. In order to save the accord, Wallonia, which had previously blocked the agreement, was given guarantees that the ICS system would consist of publicly appointed judges, and it will be a public court and not a private tribunal, as was suggested before. Besides, new amendments to CETA stated that public services would be protected against privatization, thus fending off another Belgium's major concern.

After the signing, CETA goes to the European Parliament, where a majority of its 751 members from across 28 EU countries need to vote in favor of the deal to be provisionally applied, which will be followed by ratification in the national parliaments of EU member states.

The Provisional Application of CETA is expected to enter into force as of December, spokeswoman for the Slovakia's presidency in the European Council Renata Goldirova told Sputnik on Tuesday, adding that the entire deal will be fully applied, once all member states complete their national ratification process.

CETA aims to revoke roughly 9,000 tariffs, covering many industrial goods and agricultural and food items and promises to open up competition in the services sector, including in banking and insurance. The deal supporters claim CETA will increase Canadian-EU trade by 20 percent and boost the EU economy by 12 billion euros ($13 billion) a year and Canada's by 12 billion Canadian dollars ($9 billion).

Opponents fear the mass import of European dairy products will devastate Canada's homegrown industry and ruin small businesses with similar concerns running high among the EU agro-businesses.

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