On February 23, 2017 EUCCAN in partnership with Global Affairs Canada and supported by the Canada Europe Roundtable for Business (CERT) organized a well-received lunch seminar on “New Opportunities with CETA”. Guest of Honour was The Honourable Pierre Pettigrew, CETA envoy of the Canadian government. Over 180 guests attended the event at the Hilton Toronto.

The audience was in a festive mood after the European Parliament approved the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada on February 15, 2017. Even though the 28 EU member states still need to ratify the agreement provisional implementation will come into force very soon without further vote. Those parts of the agreement which are in the jurisdiction of the member states will for now be excluded. The Honourable Pierre Pettigrew, Canada’s recently appointed CETA Envoy and a former Minister for International Trade stated that provisional implementation will be sufficient to eliminate tariffs on 98 percent of products traded between the two signatories. Full implementation will increase it to 99 percent.

Moderator Jason Langrish, Executive Director, Canada Europe Roundtable for Business (CERT), opened his remarks by announcing Latvia as the first EU member to have ratified CETA. He described CETA as the world’s most progressive trade agreement that breaks new ground due to the shared values of the two partners. The 1,600-page document is a far-reaching agreement that facilitates trade in products and services as well as most importantly, investments. Furthermore CETA increases labour mobility, initiates mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) related to licensing, certification and registration of professional designations for accountants, lawyers, architects etc. and eliminates double testing for various IT, electrical products and machinery.

Rory McAlpine, Senior Vice President, Government & Industry Relations, Maple Leaf Foods, is optimistic about smoother exports of Canadian meat and other foods products to the EU. He reminded the audience that although many of the EU tariffs and other entry barriers are gone, others will remain. These include barriers related to food safety, labelling, and environmental impact as well as the outright ban of all genetically modified (GM) food products. Also, the 510 million EU consumers spread across 28 countries still have different product preferences based on history, culture, religion etc (that sets them apart from the 320 million US customers who share the same preferences with only slight regional varieties). In addition, Canadian food exporters will also face existing EU and other competitors aggressively defending their home turf. As a result, Canadian exporters must plan to target the national markets within the EU they would like enter first while choosing suitable strategies and partners to ensure success.

Brian Martin
, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Kuehne + Nagel, outlined how transportation and logistics service providers will enjoy new market opportunities. Especially after the recent White House announcement that the US
would abandon its negotiations with the EU over the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP), Martin suggested Canada as a member of both NAFTA and CETA could serve as a “bridge” for US products entering the EU as well as EU products destined for the US. Such transshipped goods must still meet Canadian-content and country-of-origin terms of the relevant products in both directions. The high level of expertise and experience among Canada’s transportation and logistics firms as well as the scale and capacity of its modern road, rail and air sector infrastructure would facilitate the smooth flow of these products.

During the wrap-up Q&A session, the audience asked for the potential impact of Brexit on CETA’s implementation. CETA Envoy Pierre Pettigrew pointed out that there are no major changes to expect until British Prime Minister Theresa May invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It will initiate a two-year negotiation period during which both sides will set the terms for the United Kingdom’s departure.

For further events and information about CETA, please visit http://www.international.gc.ca/ceta.