After last-minute negotiations to save the landmark Canada-EU free trade (CETA) deal, Belgium reached an agreement with regional authorities Thursday, who had voted against the deal, meaning it could finally be signed in the coming days.
The deal between Canada and the EU would open markets between 500 million EU citizens and more than 35 million Canadians – but how does that affect the daily lives of individual Canadians?
First, it opens up the European market while eliminating 98 per cent of all tariffs on goods, according to a study by the federal government.
Dan Ciuriak, a consulting economist and former deputy chief economist at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, said Canadians can look forward to lower prices on imports from Europe, everything from maple syrup to textiles to more expensive items like cars.
“Italian suits will be coming in a bit cheaper,” Ciuriak said. “We will have improved supply of European [cheeses and wine], gastronomically it’s a good deal for Canada in that sense.”
Under CETA the eight per cent tariff on Canadian maple syrup would be eliminated when exported to counties in the EU making it “more competitive in the eyes of the buyers in the EU.”
Improved market access
Estimates have said CETA could increase bilateral trade by 20 per cent annually and boost Canada’s income by $12 billion annually.
Canadian beef and pork producers will see greater duty-free access to the EU market, with the potential increase in yearly sales estimated at $1 billion, according to the federal government.
“For Canadian firms that export to Europe, they can expect an increase market share,” Ciuriak said. “And hopefully some more jobs in Canada for those companies.”
A joint Canada-EU study also suggested the economic benefit of the agreement would be equivalent to creating almost 80,000 new jobs or increasing the average Canadian household’s annual income by $1,000.
How will dairy farmers be affected?
Under the trade deal, EU cheesemakers will be allowed to sell 30,000 tonnes of cheese in Canada, more than doubling the current 13,000 tonnes.
Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, said Canada’s dairy sector will need to adjust to a new reality.
“With the influx of more cheese coming from Europe, we’re going to need less milk,” said Charlebois, adding that the country’s supply management of dairy could become unbalanced. “What happens to how we compensate dairy farmers? How is processing going to be affected?
What was the hold up?
Belgium’s southern region of Wallonia held a veto over the country’s ability to support the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, known as CETA, which needs the support of all 28 EU countries.
The French-speaking region of 3.5 million people had opposed CETA over the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS) – which effectively gives large corporations companies the power to sue governments for creating regulations that affect their profits.
Under the new agreement announced – which still needs the approval of the 27 remaining EU countries – it gives Europe’s individual parliaments the ability to veto ISDS at a later date.
“This morning, we absolutely had a positive development; there are still many steps to be taken,” International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Ottawa Thursday.
EU President Donald Tusk said he will contact Justin Trudeau “once all procedures are finalized” and with further details on when the deal will be ready to sign, which could happen this weekend.
After the deal is signed, CETA could be provisionally applied by early 2017.
*With files from the Canadian Press