Canadian farm groups are welcoming the signing of the Canada-European Union trade deal on the weekend.
Seven years after negotiations began, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Council President Donald Tusk, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) at a ceremony in Brussels on Sunday.
“Seeing Canada’s largest trade agreement since NAFTA get signed is a bright light for agri-food exporters,” said Brian Innes, president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance. “Better access to the EU will help us grow our exports, driving growth here in Canada.”
When implemented, CETA will eliminate the EU’s tariffs on approximately 94 percent of Canada’s agri-food products. Ag and food exports from Canada to the EU were worth C$2.6 billion in 2014. CAFTA says the trade deal could drive additional exports of up to $1.5 billion per year, including $600 million in beef, $400 million in pork, $100 million in grains and oilseeds, $100 million in sugar containing products and a further $300 million in processed foods, fruits and vegetables.
“It was clear that the EU recognizes the value of the CETA and put their shoulders to the wheel to secure that recognition by all their member states,” said Doug Sawyer, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association director, after traveling to Brussels last week. “Beef access to the EU is a core expected benefit from Canada and we will expect a further effort to be put into removing the remaining technical barriers.”
There are still technical issues to sort out, but with the new access the EU would have the potential to become a $600 million annual market for Canadian beef, according to the CCA. That’s up from current levels of approximately $6 to $10 million per year.
CETA would secure tariff free access for Canadian processed pork products and introduce a quota volume equivalent to 80 thousand tonnes of pork cuts over five years.
“The Canadian and EU markets for pork complement each other and while this relationship holds great promise, we look forward to the government officials resolving the outstanding technical barriers that limit our ability to capitalize on what was achieved,” noted Rick Bergmann, chair of the Canadian Pork Council.
For canola, “a key element of CETA is the elimination of tariffs on canola oil entering the EU immediately upon implementation, which could increase our exports by up to $90 million per year,” pointed out Patti Miller, president of the Canola Council of Canada.
The Canola Council is also welcoming a commitment in CETA to address the timeliness of approvals for genetically engineered products, science-based policy and the development of a low level presence policy.
“The canola industry expects the EU to follow through on its commitments so that we can find solutions to trade uncertainty and disruption related to biotechnology,” added Miller.
“The realization of the full potential of CETA depends science-based sanitary and phyto-sanitary regulations on both sides of the Atlantic,” stressed Cam Dahl, president of Cereals Canada. “This includes the review and approval of crop input products and new varieties. Commitments to science-based rules of trade will be as important as tariff reductions.”
Now that the formal signing is done, the text of the deal is final, and it now begins the ratification process through Canadian Parliament and the legislatures of the 28 member countries in the EU, with implementation possibly happening in 2017.