Prime Minister Stephen Harper calls the new Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU) the “biggest deal our country has ever made" – and some of Canada’s largest manufacturing associations agree.
Canadian economic analysts agree the CETA pact between Canada and the 500-million strong EU market is the most ambitious Canada has even attempted – larger even than NAFTA in scope – since it encompasses virtually every facet of economic activity. The agreement calls for the elimination of about 98 per cent of tariffs on both sides from Day One of implementation and 95 per cent of agricultural tariffs. Some tariffs are being phased out over seven years.
The Conservative government says the deal will provide a $12 billion boost to the Canadian economy and create 80,000 new jobs; and industry leaders predict Canadian firms will take full advantage of what amounts to the dismantling of barriers – both tariffs and stifling rules and regulations – that have helped keep trade between the two entities relatively modest.
On the automotive side of the CETA pact, the EU will phase out its 10 per cent tariff on imports, and Canadian automakers will be able to ship as many as 100,000 duty-free vehicles, up from the current 8,000, under relaxed rules-of-origin requirements – developments that drew praise from the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA). “Canada’s automotive sector is a net exporter of products and services for the global automotive industry and stands to benefit from a Canada – EU free trade agreement,” said APMA president Steve Rodgers. “We view this agreement as very positive for Canada’s position in the global automotive industry and applaud our government.”
The Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), the country’s largest trade and industry association, is also singing CETA’s praises. “This is the Wayne Gretzky of trade deals,” said CME president and CEO Jayson Myers. “This landmark agreement gives Canada a competitive advantage over other leading nations around the globe, providing us with preferential access to the world’s largest economy. CETA is our economic power play in the global arena.”
The text of the CETA deal remains a private document that may still require drafting and fine tuning. At present, Ottawa has released a 44-page overview and other summary documents; federal ministers say the full text will be available within the next few months.