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6 May 2009

Canada-EU trans-Atlantic trade agreement: Pierre Marc Johnson appointed Québec’s chief negotiator

Left to right: Québec’s chief negotiator Pierre Marc Johnson, Premier Charest and Ministers Arcand and Bachand. Photo : Roch Théroux

On May 6, Québec Premier Jean Charest announced the appointment of former Premier Pierre Marc Johnson as Québec’s chief negotiator for the proposed trans-Atlantic agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU) aimed at facilitating trade and expanding areas of cooperation.

“I am pleased that Mr. Johnson has agreed to represent Québec at the Canada-EU negotiations. With his extensive international negotiating experience, he will be well positioned to defend Québec’s interests in its various areas of jurisdiction. I would like to emphasize that the launch of these negotiations today is the culmination of our government’s efforts since 2006 with our Canadian and European partners to promote a forward-looking agreement that will create a new economic space for Québec,” said Mr. Charest.

Mr. Johnson’s mandate will be to represent Québec’s interests during the negotiations for this new-generation free trade agreement between Canada and the EU, with Québec playing a stakeholder role in the process.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek announced the launch of the negotiations this morning in Prague.

“With this new-generation agreement, we will facilitate access to the European market for our exporters, thereby creating wealth and jobs. Worker mobility will be enhanced and professional qualifications will be recognized to better meet the needs of the labour market while boosting Québec’s economic competitiveness to better meet the challenges of globalization. The EU will also come out a winner since business opportunities will be created on both sides of the Atlantic, benefiting European as well as Canadian companies,” said Raymond Bachand, Minister of Finance and Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade.

International Relations Minister Pierre Arcand added: “Québec also hopes that this agreement will pave the way for wide-ranging cooperation opportunities between the EU and Québec. I would also like to note that for the first time, Québec will be a formal stakeholder in the trade negotiations within its areas of jurisdiction.”

During discussions with the EU, Québec intends to take on a strong leadership role and to emphasize the opportunities stemming from the conclusion of specific cooperation partnerships. Cooperation with the EU and its member states, which should ideally be as broad-based as possible, could extend to areas ranging from culture, health, education and environmental protection to youth mobility, sustainable development and immigration, as well as science and technology. In order to identify the most promising potential avenues for collaboration and cooperation with the EU, Mr. Johnson will be organizing consultation and participation events in the next few months with the support of the Québec Government Office in Brussels and in association with key representatives from civil society and the sectors in question. At the same time, Québec will also be organizing consultations with a range of associations and companies to identify the key economic issues at stake during the negotiations.

Québec Government Office in Brussels
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