Promising trends on CETA’s first birthday

| December 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Cecilia Malmström, European commissioner for trade, meets with International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr in Montreal. (Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service  — Odile Billeneuve)

Cecilia Malmström, European commissioner for trade, meets with International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr in Montreal. (Photo: EC – Audiovisual Service — Odile Billeneuve)

Canada and the European Union’s ambitious, forward-looking vision of closer trade relations a decade ago has now been a reality for a year. On Sept. 21, 2018, we marked the first anniversary of the provisional implementation of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. One year on, the agreement is already delivering positive results. By eliminating tariffs on almost 98 per cent of industrial goods, CETA has opened the door to new opportunities for businesses of all sizes and across all sectors on both sides of the Atlantic. The result is nothing short of impressive: A 7.1-per-cent surge in European exports since the entry into force of the agreement. Large and small businesses are doing extremely well in Canada. Numbers speak for themselves: Exports of machinery and mechanical appliances, which make up one fifth of EU exports to Canada, are up by more than 8 per cent. Pharmaceutical products, accounting for 10 per cent of the EU exports to Canada, are up by 10 per cent. There’s good news in the agricultural sector, too: Exports of fruit and nuts increased by 29 per cent and chocolate by as much as 34 per cent.
As ambassador of the European Union to Canada, I’ve had the privilege of visiting many companies already benefiting from CETA, ranging from a small shop importing European pianos to Canada and a European manufacturer of household products, which will now start selling its products in major Canadian stores, to an indigenous company in Nova Scotia exporting Canadian lobster to the EU. I am also pleased to see Canadian consumers enjoying a wider variety of traditional European products and more competitive prices thanks to CETA. As a result, for example, the sales of the Consortium of Italian San Daniele Ham producers are up by 35 per cent.
CETA also offers EU businesses the opportunity to bid on public procurement contracts at federal, provincial and municipal levels in Canada. And it works: A Spanish company supplying fitness equipment recently won a public contract, under CETA rules, to be the sole supplier over the next few years of this type of equipment to the Canadian government. Conversely, a Canadian company recently won two contracts for municipal bike services in France and Spain. This shows how rapidly CETA has been able to break down trade barriers between two mature economies that need each other to prosper in our shared quest for an open, rules-based international trading order.
The success of CETA is undeniable. But momentum must be maintained and expanded. Businesses on both sides of the Atlantic have to get to know each other to establish working relationships and distribution channels. Professional organizations have to reflect on their interest in having mutual recognition of their professional qualifications. Regulators have to devise ways of working together to ensure that regulations, which are created to protect our citizens, do not become obstacles to our two-way trade.
And perhaps most important, governments must make the agreement work for all. This is why when Jim Carr, Canadian minister of international trade diversification, and Cecilia Malmström, European trade commissioner, co-hosted the inaugural meeting of the CETA Joint Committee — the highest body for the two partners to discuss CETA-related issues — last September, they agreed to help SMEs and female entrepreneurs better reap the benefits of the agreement through a series of concrete recommendations.
When CETA entered into force provisionally on Sept. 21, 2017, it was hailed as one of the most modern trade agreements on the planet, thanks to the far-reaching provisions it contains on transparency, inclusion of civil society, sustainable development and labour. One year later, it is keeping its promises, and creating new opportunities for millions of consumers, companies and workers on both sides of the Atlantic. And perhaps more important, it consolidates an already mature political relationship between two like-minded trading partners, while offering further proof to those who may be tempted by inward-looking, protectionist policies, that trade is part of the solution, not the problem.
I am convinced that the only way we can guarantee stability in the 21st Century is by returning to open global trade. CETA is a prime example of that.

Peteris Ustubs is the ambassador of the EU. Reach him at or (613) 238-6464.

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Category: Diplomatica

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Peteris Ustubs is the ambassador of the European Union to Canada. Follow him @EUAmbCanada.

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