The Path CETA Plans to Walk and How You can Prepare for Its Arrival


The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture hosted the 2014 Agriculture Trade Summit in Saskatoon in early February. It was there that I met Jennifer Higginson, deputy director of the trade negotiations division of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Higginson’s presentation dealt largely with the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), citing an eventual elimination of over 95% of European Union agricultural tariffs when fully implemented.

Unfortunately, Higginson declined an interview immediately following the presentation, but was open to receiving questions via email. Following our initial, virtual correspondence, I received an email from the senior media relations officer at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada last week, with responses to all of my questions. The discourse is as follows:

1. How long until CETA is complete?

In October 2013, an agreement in principle was reached on CETA.  Both Canada and the EU are working expeditiously to conclude the outstanding technical negotiations. Once these technical negotiations are completed, Canada and the EU will then proceed with a legal review and translation of the CETA text into a total of 23 EU treaty languages. This will be followed by the process required to approve the agreement in Canada and the EU along with the steps necessary to bring policies, regulations and legislation into conformity with the obligations under CETA. It is anticipated that these various steps will take approximately two years to complete.

2. What will change immediately, as a result of CETA implementation?

Almost 94% of all EU agriculture and agri-food tariff lines will be liberalized (become duty-free) upon implementation of the CETA.

New market access opportunities
for Canadian exporters:

Immediate duty-free treatment for:
• Fruits and vegetables, including apples,
blueberries and cherries
• Processed foods, including maple syrup,
sugar confectionary, chocolate, biscuits,
cookies, mixes and dough, baked goods
and other food preparations
• Oils, including soybean and canola oil
• Cat and dog food

Tariff elimination over 7 years for:
• Durum and high-quality common wheat
• Low-medium quality wheat, with a 100,000
tonne transition duty-free quota
• Rye, barley, oats

-From Higginson’s “Canadian Agriculture and
International Trade Negotiations” presentation.

 3. What will change over time?

Canada has secured tariff elimination into the EU market for a wide range of products.
Certain other EU tariffs will be phased out over a three to seven year transition period.
When CETA is fully implemented, over 95% of EU agricultural tariffs will be eliminated including those of our key agricultural export interests such as meats, grains and oilseeds, fruits and vegetables, and processed foods. Currently only 18% of EU agricultural tariffs are duty-free. 

 4. Will raw commodities be accepted free of tariffs, or only value-added?

Tariff elimination under the CETA will cover most agriculture and agri-food products, including raw commodities and value-added or processed products.  

5. How will CETA impact European agriculture?

The EU would be in the best position to identify the impacts of CETA on its own sector.  

6. What is the industry doing to prepare for CETA?

While the negotiations are not yet concluded, there is information available at . We hope that this will provide the sector with initial information on future opportunities that a finalized CETA will create so that the industry/sector can begin to do their own research, plan and prepare to ensure they are in a good position to take advantage of these future opportunities.

7. How should producers prepare? 

Producers can begin to gather market intelligence, plan and prepare so they are in a good position to take advantage of these future opportunities. The Agri-Food Trade Service of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada supports agricultural productivity and trade by providing centralized access to market information, trade counselling and export support activities. For further information please visit its website:

Producers can also work with the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS, ) to help prepare for international markets, assess market potential, find qualified contacts and resolve business problems. The TCS services are offered free of charge to Canadian companies and organizations.

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