On 8 November, EUCCAN, along with its partners, the EU Delegation to Canada, Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) LLP and DEVELOPMENT Solutions, held a second annual CETA Workshop in Toronto, as part of the EU-funded CETA Market Access Program for EU Business. The discussion, centered on CETA and how European businesses could take benefits of the Canadian market, was held in three parts:
Firstly, Mr. Andrew Harrison of BLG welcomed the guests to the event venue by stressing the importance and history behind the Canada-EU relationship. Part I of the workshop took an overview of the current progress of CETA and the outlook on European-Canadian economic relations, and featured an opening by EUCCAN President Mr. Thomas Beck, who began the discussion by asking: “Have we made progress? Has trade and investment between the EU and Canada increased notably?”. Later in his keynote speech, Mr. Beck shared the success story of a German tourism project in Nova Scotia, in which its investor could thank CETA for being able to attain a long-term work permit and legally work on the project in Canada. Nevertheless, Mr. Beck also importantly asked how the Canadian market, boggled with relatively higher corporate tax rates and long certification process, could become more competitive and attractive to European business in the time of CETA.
A keynote speech from EU Delegation to Canada Ambassador Mr. Peteris Ustubs set the tone for the Workshop, with “this is the time and space for openness and transparency so that we can jointly work together to make sure that this agreement actually works. This is the time to share excitements and disappointments.” Mr. Douglas Porter, Chief Economist of the BMO Financial Group also gave a highly captivating presentation. Through a discussion of the Canadian and wider global economy, the uncertain future of global trade, the changing nature of the EU-Canada economic relationship and trends in the currency market and interest rates, Mr. Porter set the stage for economic dialogue.
Mr. Matthew Kronby, Partner in the International Trade Group at BLG led a wider discussion, remarking on the road ahead that CETA has to make in its implementation, with uncertainties surrounding US trade policy and highly changing global trends.
Part II of the workshop focused on business experiences after provisional application of CETA, and featured key figures from European subsidiaries and a Canadian company, including LINKBYNET, Dr. Oetker and Toronto’s own European food importer, Jan K Overweel Ltd. The testimonials by the three companies were highly valuable offering practical takes how the FTA has and will benefit their success in Canada. For example, Mr. Cédric Combey, VP Sales at LINKBYNET North America expressed his optimism in how CETA has eased their labour flow between Europe and Canada, being able to move professionals for their extensive tech needs. Meanwhile, Dr. Marco Schmidt, Executive VP North America at Dr. Oetker Canada Ltd, credited CETA for the reduction of duties. He also expressed some of his concerns over the agreement, which he remarked could do more for overcoming regulatory barriers to trade and pondered on its ability to ride the current reality of rising American tariffs and a volatile global market. Mr. Patrick Pelliccione, President of Jan K Overweel Ltd., greatly moved the focus towards agri-food trade under CETA, and widely credited CETA for opening up the Canadian market to more European food products, with cheese in particular.
This was followed by a panel and Q&A discussion on business experiences, joined by the business representatives and also Ms. Andrea Desmarteau, Deputy Director of European Bilateral Relations and Advocacy at Global Affairs Canada and Mr. Greg Tereposky, Partner and international trade expert at Tereposky & DeRose LLP, who provided additional government and legal perspectives to the discussion. Notably, Ms. Desmarteau remarked: “There is a lack of awareness of the opportunities that CETA brings to European and Canadian businesses. Workshops, publicity, across the country to make businesses aware of how they can take advantage of CETA are important.” The moderator Mr. Jason Langrish, Executive Director of the Canada-Europe Roundtable for Business, utilised his extensive expertise on economic relations across the Atlantic to capture the focus of the dialogue.
After lunch, Part III took a technical perspective with focus sessions on CETA’s provisions on the standardisation of goods, intellectual property rights (IPR) and labour mobility.
Ms. Cristina Draghici, Sector Specialist at the Standards Council of Canada, led a crucial discussion on CETA’s Conformity Assessment Protocol, in which standards bodies both in Canada and the EU were working to harmonise their testing standards to better facilitate and make imports and exports faster and more appealing. Ms. Georgina Starkman Danzig, of Kestenberg Siegal Lipkus, turned the focus to CETA’s Chapter 20 on intellectual properties, and presented the highly intricate and complex conditions regarding IPR, such as Geographical Indicators (GIs), and what that meant for trade flow between the EU and Canada. Ms. Jacqueline Bart, often regarded as Canada’s top corporate immigration lawyer today, led the discussion on labour mobility, remarking on how CETA was simplifying the process of transferring workers and specialists across the Atlantic, noted: “CETA is being more than just implemented, CETA is running.” She encouraged, like with all new things, to give CETA time to realize its numerous benefits.
EUCCAN wishes to thank all speakers, attendees and partners that made the 2018 CETA Market Access Program Annual Workshop a fantastic success! Here’s to a promising economic future between Canada and the EU!