The European Union and Canada will kick-start a multibillion-dollar trade pact called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in the coming months after it secured approval from EU lawmakers on Wednesday.
Parts of the deal, particularly concerning investment, will only come into force after clearance by more than 30 national parliaments and the assemblies of Belgium’s regions. This process can take several years and approval is far from certain.
Here are some of the details of the 1,598-page treaty:
Canada is the EU’s 12th most important trading partner. The EU is No. 2 for Canada, accounting for nearly 10 per cent of its external trade in goods.
A joint EU-Canada study forecast CETA would increase bilateral trade in goods and services by more than 20 per cent.
The European Union and Canada have agreed to eliminate tariffs on almost 99 per cent of goods. The beneficiaries would include, for example, carmakers or the EU textile sector, for which Canadian duties can be up to 18 per cent.
Each party will reduce tariffs on just over 90 per cent of agricultural products. So for example, an eight per cent EU duty on maple syrup will go. Tariffs will remain on poultry, meat and eggs. For other items, quotas will apply.
Canada will be able to increase its exports in stages to 80,000 tonnes of pork, 50,000 tonnes of beef and 100,000 tonnes of wheat free of duties to the European Union.
EU dairy producers will be able to export more than double the amount of ‘high-quality’ cheeses to Canada. Canada will also grant access for most processed agricultural products, for the EU notably wine and spirits.
Regional food products
Canada will protect the special status of certain EU agricultural products. Under EU rules, “geographical indications” may only come from a specific country or region, such as Prosciutto di Parma ham from Italy and Camembert cheese from France.
The trade deal aims to create a more level playing field between Canada and the European Union, the latter having complained that pharmaceutical patents are not sufficiently protected in Canada.
Federal, provincial and municipal governments in Canada have committed to open their markets for procurement to European suppliers, a first for Canada in any trade deal, for example in urban transport.
Federal government contracts are estimated to be worth some C$15 billion to C$19 billion per year and those of Canadian municipalities at around C$112 billion.
The European Union will eliminate its tariffs of 10 per cent on cars and up to 4.5 per cent on auto parts from Canada, while Canada will recognize a list of EU car standards that will make it easier to export vehicles to Canada.
The European Union sees around half of the overall GDP gains coming from liberalizing trade in services — notably financial, telecoms, energy and maritime transport.
The two partners will also mutually recognize professional qualifications, such as for architects, accountants or engineers, making it easier for them to offer their services.
Canada is the fourth-largest foreign investor in the EU and the value of goods produced by its companies there is worth more than all of EU-Canada trade.
The agreement aims to remove barriers to and enhance protection of foreign direct investment between the two parties, currently worth some 340 billion euros.
The investment chapter also covers investment protection, the most controversial aspect of the treaty, which critics say will allow multinational companies to dictate public policy. Supporters say the investment court system fully answers those concerns.
Just big business?
By cutting tariffs on cars and auto parts, CETA could lead carmakers such as Ford or Fiat Chrysler to realign their operations, but CETA supporters, such as the European Commission, say it will benefit smaller businesses too.
Indeed, they say smaller companies, not armed with subsidiaries and lawyers, are most constrained by tariffs and regulations.