Canada-EU trade talks hung up over French demands to protect its cultural industries

Prime Minster Stephen Harper has indicated that trade talks with the European Union have bogged down and it appears one of the main issues is demands by France for protection of cultural industries.

There are difficulties, Mr. Harper told reporters in Paris after meeting French President François Hollande. Mr. Harper said that while France has been a supporter of a trade deal, “there are obviously always in negotiations some areas that are more difficult than others. Both of our countries look to have considerable gains from an eventual agreement and we will continue to work with that objective in mind.”

Mr. Harper was not specific about the major issues in the discussions, saying he did not want to negotiate in public. He also said Canada would not put a deadline on the talks and would only sign a deal that was in the best interests of Canadians.

However Mr. Hollande made it clear to reporters that France is pushing for an exemption of cultural industries and is also concerned about agriculture. He told reporters that France wants the negotiations to be successful, but the agreement must respect principles that have been important to France for a long time and that includes an excluding audiovisual industries and culture…

Mr. Hollande’s time frame for the deal to conclude is a much longer than Canadian officials had indicated. .