EU-Canada deal foreshadows a global standard for professional degrees like architects and engineers

On October 18th it announced an agreement in principle between Canada and the European Union on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). More than a blessing for insomniacs, CETA is a prototype for bigger things to come, especially the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) now under negotiation between the EU and the United States.

It would close gaps in intellectual-property rules and could allow for mutual recognition of some professional certifications, such as those for architects and engineers. The aim is to begin lowering barriers to trade in services just as past agreements removed obstacles to trade in goods: a worthy goal, since services generate about 70% of rich-world GDP.

If Canada and the EU can agree to a deal on, say, drug approvals or professional certifications, it could become a global standard. Yes, that would mean that international norms would be set on terms advantageous to the rich world. But at least it would give emerging countries clear goals to aim for: bring your accountancy qualifications up to scratch, and we can do a deal.

World services agreements would be more than double the size of world trade deals.

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