Trade agreement one step closer to full ratification
By Jonathan Martin
France’s lower house of parliament approved the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) on Tuesday in a 266 to 213 vote.
The deal, which covers trade between the European Union (EU) and Canada, went into partial force in 2017. Before member nations can fully implement it, however, each of the EU’s 28 countries must ratify the agreement individually. Canada’s parliament approved the deal on Feb. 15, 2017. To date, 14 EU countries have ratified CETA.
The legislation will make its way to the French Senate before Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, signs it into law.
Before CETA, around 75 per cent of Canadian goods shipped to the EU were subject to tariffs. Since the trade deal’s partial implementation, that number has dropped to around 2 per cent. When CETA comes into full effect, it will drop another percentage point, to 1 per cent of goods.
So far, CETA’s partial implementation has resulted in a 107 per cent boost in Canadian pork exports to the EU and a 113 per cent jump in beef sales, a July 16 Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) release shows. The starting point for Canadian beef and pork exports to the EU were small, though, so the amount of meat going into Europe remains “well short of the potential trade,” Brian Innes, CAFTA’s president, said in the release.
Right now, Canada’s partners seem to be reaping most of the agreement’s benefits. EU exports to Canada have risen 15 per cent since CETA’s implementation, Agence France-Presse reports.
“Now we know, a year and a half after ratifying that we have a trade deficit, especially in agri-food,” Tracey Ramsey, member of Parliament and international trade critic, told Farms.com. “Look at the Durum issue with Italy.”
Durum exports to Italy dropped by 68 per cent over the past year. Italy was one of the largest EU importers of Canadian grains but has taken a firm stance against CETA ratification. Italian farmers picketed in front of the country’s parliament when the agreement first came into effect, fearful of Canadian goods flooding the market and glyphosate-tainted wheat.
In total, Canada sits at a trade deficit of around C$3.5 billion with the EU.
All the same, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his support for the deal at the latest Canada-EU summit on July 18.
CETA is “a blueprint to help us achieve the kind of future our citizens deserve,” he said. “A future where hardworking middle-class people make a fair wage.”