Report from the 1st Meeting of the Committee on Trade and Sustainable Development

The first meeting of the Committee on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) established under CETA took place on 13 September 2018 in Brussels.

The exchanges took place in a friendly and constructive atmosphere and produced first concrete outputs based on the intensive work between the parties initiated promptly after the provisional entry into force of the Agreement on September 21, 2017. Canada and the EU took stock of the joint work on setting up the procedures and institutional structures for the effective implementation of the TSD chapters, and exchanged views on potential priority areas in the trade and labour, trade and environment, and cross-cutting fields. The meeting was preceded and informed by exchanges of the first CETA Civil Society Forum, which took place on 12 September 2018. In addition, in the spirit of transparency, the parties debriefed representatives of civil society on the outcomes of their exchanges in the TSD committee. The parties agreed on the next steps for TSD implementation in advance of the next TSD Committee meeting, including a number of follow-up meetings in the near term

More specifically:

The EU and Canada acknowledged the envisaged adoption of three recommendations on trade and climate, trade and gender and SMEs (to be formally adopted by the CETA Joint Committee on 26 September 2018), which were prepared in the framework of the TSD implementation work. The Parties had an exchange of views on possible initial implementation actions to the recommendations. In relation to trade and gender, they discussed, inter alia, sharing experiences on possibilities for systematic gender-differentiated data collection related to trade, and reaching out to third countries who share interest in the subject matter. They agreed to a follow-up meeting in the near term in order to agree on a concrete list of actions. In relation to the trade and climate agenda, the Parties welcomed progress made in preparation to an event on trade and climate scheduled for January 2019 in Brussels. On SMEs - a subject matter extending beyond the scope of TSD - it was agreed to put the respective experts in contact to devise prompt implementation actions.

The Parties acknowledged the exchange of their respective proposals for lists of experts under chapter 23 (trade and labour) and 24 (trade and environment) from which members of a Panel of Experts would be selected in the case of potential disputes between the parties on matters falling under the chapters. They welcomed the progress made in the approval procedure and expressed their intention to adopt the lists formally during the CETA Joint Committee or soon after via exchange of letters.

The Parties outlined their respective initial ideas and exchanged their preliminary views on priority areas for cooperation under the TSD chapters. They agreed that the most productive way for taking this forward would be to focus on those priorities of mutual interest to both Parties. Work under some of the priorities could include taking stock of the on-going work between the EU and Canada in other bilateral or multilateral settings. Both sides agreed to follow-up shortly in order to confirm joint priorities and follow them up with concrete actions.

Under cross-cutting issues, the Parties stressed the important role of businesses in promoting labour and environmental objectives, and outlined their respective on-going efforts in promoting responsible business conduct/corporate social responsibility with their trade partners. They agreed as a follow-up to explore potential synergies and cooperation activities.

Under the dedicated session on environment and climate action, the Parties recalled the already existing high intensity of bilateral relations on environmental issues in general, and noted their commitment to future cooperation under CETA. The Parties updated each other on their relevant processes in relation to multilateral environment agreements (MEAs). In this context, the Parties also exchanged views on areas of mutual interest, such as: trade in plastics, trade and biodiversity, and clean technology. The Parties provided updates on their respective mechanisms and practices in receiving communications on the Trade and Environment Chapter (Canada) and TSD (EU) from non-governmental stakeholders and the wider public.

In the dedicated session on trade and labour, the Parties outlined their respective legal mechanisms for monitoring and ensuring compliance with core labour standards, and discussed possible priorities for cooperation. In the context of the latter, EU and Canada expressed their preliminary interest in working jointly on labour issues in the global supply chains in third countries; on collective bargaining in the context of the changing world of work, in particular in the platform economy; and on gender-related issues in the world of work, also in coordination with the joint follow-up work on the trade and gender recommendation.

The Parties had a first formal exchange of views in the context of the early review of the Trade and Sustainable Development chapters, following the October 2016 agreement on the Joint Interpretative Instrument. Canada and the EU reconfirmed their commitment to advancing this process and agreed to intensify their efforts on this commitment, with a view to reviewing the implementation of the TSD chapters, including their enforcement mechanisms, to propose solutions and outcomes at the second CETA Joint Committee meeting and subsequent Joint Committee meetings as pertinent.  The Parties also devised a joint work plan which includes at least three dedicated meetings on this issue in advance of the second CETA Joint Committee meeting.

Finally, the Parties met with the representatives of the domestic advisory groups (DAGs) referred to by the TSD chapters, and debriefed them from the TSD Committee discussions. They exchanged views on the subjects raised during the TSD meeting and discussed expectations for future work between the DAGs and the Parties.

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