The Impact of International Trade Agreements on Impact Purchasing Policies

Canada and the European Union are in the process of negotiating a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). This agreement would eliminate most tariffs between Canada and the EU and change some non-trade related government policies such as those related to labour, health, farming, public safety, and environmental rules and regulations.

Negotiations began in 2009 and progress has been made in the areas of goods, services, investment, government procurement, and more. The Government of Canada has made the CETA negotiations a priority in its international trade agenda and negotiating parties aim to conclude negotiations in 2012.

The Canadian CED Network promotes government purchasing policies that recognize the added social, economic, and environmental value of locally owned businesses, co-operatives, and so

cial enterprises. In doing so, we encourage governments to use purchasing as a tool for creating stronger and more inclusive local economies, building more sustainable communities, protecting the environment, promoting ethical business practices, and for creating new opportunities for marginalized groups to gain long-term local employment. However, the ability of provincial and municipal governments to continue this practice is now coming under threat.

Ongoing negotiations for the proposed CETA have revealed the EU’s intent to gain unrestricted access to purchasing by provinces, municipalities, school boards, universities, hospitals, and provincial and municipal crown corporations. If achieved, it could significantly reduce or even eliminate provincial and municipal purchasing policies that encourage local development, or set performance requirements obliging foreign suppliers to purchase locally, train local workers, or reinvest a portion of profits into local communities.

Community Benefit Agreements provide a tool governments can use to continue to purchase from local small businesses, co-operatives, and social enterprises without interfering with trade agreements. Community Benefit Agreements allow government purchasing to include a value to social components as well as price, quality, and environment considerations in all Request for Proposals. (Click here to learn more about community benefit agreements).

For more information on Community Benefit Agreements or on CETA and its implications for CED, please contact Kirsten Bernas with CCEDNet’s Policy Council at kbernas@ccednet-rcdec.ca. You can also visit the Trade Justice Network’s website at www.tradejustice.ca for more information or to get involved by signing their Open Declaration. Alternatively, please contact us if you have any information you would like to share regarding CETA and CED.