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Executive Council
February 20, 2009

NL Expressed Concern with Canada � EU Trade Negotiation Process

While Newfoundland and Labrador fully supports improved trade with the European Union, any actions taken in that regard must address priority areas of concern for the province said the Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. In particular, the province is extremely hesitant to allow the Federal Government to head these negotiations, given past actions that question their commitment to issues of importance to the province.

"At this point, we are not willing to sign on to support the negotiation of a new and comprehensive economic agreement with the European Union," said Premier Williams. "This decision should not be confused with a lack of support for an improved trade relationship between Canada and Europe. Indeed, Newfoundland and Labrador values and respects its trade relations with Europe which have existed with the province for over 5 centuries and does not wish to jeopardize those relations. From traditional relationships within the fishing industry to our newer partnerships with EU companies in the oil and gas industry and beyond, we appreciate the value of developing mutually beneficial policies with the EU."

The province has centuries-old trading relationships with the EU and is positioned geographically as a natural trading partner to the EU. However, other concerns prevent the province from giving unqualified support for the Canadian Government�s process as it moves forward on the basis of a joint Canada-EU scoping document which describes the opportunities for enhanced trade and investment between the European Union and Canada and identifies numerous potential areas of discussions for a possible deepened economic agreement.

"The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is unable to support this at this time on the basis of very genuine concerns that our province�s issues may not be safeguarded or dealt with in an appropriate way by the Federal Government," added Premier Williams. "In particular, long standing issues such as custodial management of our fishery, a proposed ban on seal products into the EU and prohibitive tariffs on seafood products entering the EU represent significant issues of concern that have been left unaddressed by the Federal Government for far too long. Newfoundland and Labrador has not received any assurances that a Canada-EU agreement would include protection for measures such as the Atlantic Accords and Fish Inspection Act. Additionally, a track record of a lack of substantive and inclusive consultation on federal-provincial issues gives Newfoundland and Labrador great cause for concern, particularly in light of the far reaching implications of a possible Canada-EU trade agreement."

Premier Williams said he will continue to monitor the progress of this process and government officials will continue to provide full representation on issues of importance to his province.

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Media contacts:

Elizabeth Matthews
Director of Communications
Office of the Premier
Roger Scaplen
Press Secretary
Office of the Premier
709-729-4304, 727-0991

2009 02 20                                                      5:20 p.m.

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