EU and Canada sign CETA trade agreement

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was signed over the weekend in Brussels by the EU and Canada.

CETA was dealt a blow last week after Belgium’s regional governments failed to reach agreement on the deal, meaning the EU could not sign the deal until Belgium backed it.

However, agreement was reached on the deal in Belgium and CETA was signed on October 30.

Speaking at the end of the 16th EU-Canada Summit, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that the people of Canada and the European Union have opened a new chapter in their relationship.

“More than half a billion people on both sides of the Atlantic will enjoy new opportunities. For many people, it will mean new jobs and better jobs.”

By removing almost all import duties, CETA will allow European exporters of industrial and agricultural goods to save more than €500m every year, according to the European Commission.

The agreement protects workers’ rights, environmental standards and consumer safety, while governments will retain all of their powers to legislate, regulate and provide public services.

CETA promotes all of the things that Canadians and Europeans care about; decency in the workplace, our health and safety, our cultural diversity, the quality of the land, sea and air that surround us.

The EU and Canada also signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement, which is to deepen cooperation across numerous policies.

The agreement deepens cooperation in vital areas of policy including security, the fight against terrorism, defence, migration, climate change, energy, development, research and innovation.

President Juncker said that the EU and Canada have signed two agreements that not only symbolise our commitment to a shared future but also set out a common project that will improve the lives of millions of Canadians and Europeans.

What does CETA mean?

The deal will make business with Canada easier, remove customs duties, substantially improve access to public contracts, open up new sectors of the Canadian services market, offer predictable conditions for investors, and protect Geographical Indications, the Commission has said.

As of the first day of its implementation, Canada will eliminate duties worth €400m for goods originating in the EU. At the end of transitional periods for duty elimination, that figure will rise to more than €500m a year.

CETA will create new opportunities for farmers and food producers, while fully protecting the sensitivities of the EU, according to the Commission.

Under the trade agreement, the total duty-free access the EU will grant to Canada for fresh and frozen beef is 50,000t, which can be broken down in to 15,000t of frozen beef, 30,838t of fresh/chilled beef and 4,162t of fresh beef.

Canada will also be granted a duty-free access for 75,000t of pork, which will be added to the existing WTO quota of 4,625t and consolidated into CETA to simplify the administration of this quota.

Under the trade agreement, EU beef and sheepmeat market access into Canada will be fully liberalised at zero in-quota rates.