The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) has asked four cabinet ministers to push for progress on the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), on the three year anniversary of the agreement coming into force.

In a letter sent to Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng, Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne, and Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Marie-Claude Bibeau, CAFTA says that the deal has “failed to deliver on its promises for Canada’s agri-food exporters.”

CETA should have meant exports of nearly $1.5 billion annually, however CAFTA says the deal falls well short of that level, mostly hampered through non-tariff trade barriers, protectionist measures, and administrative hurdles.

Specifically, CAFTA says the EU is blocking imports of Canadian goods by:

  • Not recognizing the effectiveness of meat processing for beef and pork;
  • Not recognizing canola farmers’ sustainability practices, despite four years of diligent work and substantive engagement with EU officials;
  • Not adhering to predictable and science-based import tolerance processes for crop protection products; and,
  • For food manufacturers, production and trade distorting subsidies on sugar in the EU make Canadian exports of sugar-containing products among other processed foods uneconomic.

What’s more, Italy’s country of origin labelling (COOL) for pasta, which discriminates against Canadian wheat exports, is unquestionably offside from both the EU’s CETA commitments and EU law, and presents the danger to spill over to other products and regions, CAFTA says.

CAFTA says that by not enforcing CETA, Canada is vulnerable to other countries not respecting their own trade commitments with Canada.

In the letter, the ministers are asked to raise these issues with their EU counterparts adding that new EU food and agriculture policies such as the Farm to Fork strategy could “exacerbate existing barriers and potentially create new ones” which would harm Canadian exporters further.

“We cannot afford to let the EU stand in the way of Canada’s economic recovery,” CAFTA writes, linking the success of trade deals to the success of Canada’s COVID-19 economic recovery.

The organization would like to see the Team Canada approach adopted for the passing of the USMCA, for example, where several departments work in concert to move agreements forward.

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