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            december 09, 2019

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CETA boosts two-way trade between Canada and the EU


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called for the full ratification of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) across all 28 EU member states - required for all provisions of the agreement to take effect.
The plea was made during the EU-Canada Summit held recently in Montreal where Mr Trudeau could not have had a better place to show European Union officials the benefits of a free trade agreement than the Port of Montreal.
Montreal's European volumes increased by 6.6 per cent in 2018, the first full year that CETA between Canada and the EU was in effect. The 2016 agreement abolished tariffs on more than 90 per cent of goods.
Mr Trudeau toured the port with European Council President Donald Tusk as part of a trade summit with EU officials. The cordial summit with Canada's second largest trading partner contrasted with the prickly relationship with its largest, the United States, under tariff-prone President Donald Trump.
Thanks to CETA, exports of goods to the EU increased by 7 per cent in 2018 to CAD44.5 billion (US$33.9 billion) But the boost to the EU was greater - a 9 per cent increase in goods exported to Canada to CAD60 billion.
"It is clear that CETA has brought many benefits to people on both sides of the Atlantic," Mr Tusk said after the summit.
Mr Trudeau acknowledged that the benefits to Canada's exports lagged behind the EU's, but told reporters, "We have tremendous confidence that Canadian companies will continue to benefit and increase their opportunities to grow their businesses through selling more to Europe."
But with the bulk of CETA's provisions already in place, Mr Trudeau's biggest concern may be right at home. Canadian businesses have been slower to take advantage of export opportunities.
A recent survey found that only 7 per cent of Canadian exporters had awareness of CETA, underscoring the dominance of the US market. Canada exported CAD438.4 billion in goods to the US in 2018, 10 times more than the EU.
Apart from lack of awareness by exporters, CETA has met resistance within some corners of Canada.
Two federal opposition leaders, Jagmeet Singh of the New Democratic Party and Elizabeth May of the Green Party, signed a letter urging French leaders to reject CETA.
"We agree that trade between our countries and continents is important," the letter stated. "However, we believe in a type of trading relationship very different from this one. We strive for a trading relationship that addresses the fundamental issues of inequality, human rights and climate change."
The letter also cited the threat to Canada's supply management system, which tightly controls the production, sale and export of dairy and poultry products.
Dairy, in particular, has been a point of contention in CETA. Canadian dairy processors received part of the tariff-free quota of EU cheese. EU officials reportedly lodged complaints about having limited access to the Canadian dairy market, reports American Shipper.

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