CETA deal hasn't delivered on promised billions, says trade group

The president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) is sounding the alarm surrounding the lack of trade being done with the European Union since Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into effect two years ago.

“When CETA was first signed, agri-food exporters were promised a means to increase exports by billions of dollars annually,” says Dan Darling president of CAFTA. “While our members remain optimistic about the promise of CETA, we’re still waiting for real access to the EU market two years later. Our exports really should be much higher, in particular at a time when we have an advantage over competitors that do not have a free trade agreement with the EU.”

The organization has pointed out that since the agreement was signed, EU exports to Canada have increased by over 10 per cent while Canadian agri-food exports have decreased by the same amount. This would mean an increase to the trade deficit of $3.5 billion in favour of EU exporters.

Although there have been increases in some Canadian grain exports to the EU, as a whole, durum wheat exports into Italy, one of Canada’s top grain exports to the EU, have been cut in half since the introduction of Italian mandatory country of origin labelling regulations.

“Mechanisms within CETA were supposed to prevent non-tariff barriers from stifling trade and ensure that parties abide by their commitment,” Darling added. “Instead, with non-tariff barriers still in place, viable commercial access remains elusive. It is time for Canadian and EU lawmakers to honour the deal negotiated and deliver on the outcomes promised.”

To the good, CETA has helped with Canadian pork and beef exports to the EU, which have seen an increase of 107 per cent and 113 per cent, respectively in 2018 from a year earlier. However, CAFTA points out they were starting from a very small base and overall volumes remain well under what was promised.

According to a news release, CAFTA representatives are meeting with senior Canadian and EU officials this week to discuss the wide gap between the promises of CETA what the reality is for agri-food exporters.

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