BRUSSELS, Belgium – The European Union and Canada signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) on Oct. 30, overcoming delays due to opposition in Belgium.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, signed CETA during the European Union-Canada Leaders’ Summit.
“The signing of CETA is a historic occasion,” Trudeau said in a statement. “This modern and progressive agreement will reinforce the strong links between Canada and the EU, and create vast new opportunities for Canadians and Europeans alike — opening new markets for our exporters, offering more choices and better prices to consumers, and forging stronger ties between our economies.”
CETA will provide Canada with access to more than 500 million consumers in the EU’s 28-country market which generates $20 trillion in annual economic activity, according to the Canadian government. Under the trade agreement, 99 percent of tariffs will be eliminated, in most cases as soon as the agreement comes into force. Canada will eliminate €400 million in duties for goods originating in the EU. That figure will rise to €500 million a year at the end of transitional periods for duty elimination.
CETA also provides a framework for the movement of architects, accountants, engineers and other individuals in careers that require certifications by implementing mutual recognition of professional qualifications. Additionally, the agreement makes it easier for company staff and other professionals to work on either side of the Atlantic, and for businesses to move staff temporarily between the EU and Canada, in addition to other trade benefits.
“Today, the people of Canada and the European Union have opened a new chapter in their relationship,” Juncker said in a speech during the summit. “More than half a billion people on both sides of the Atlantic will enjoy new opportunities. For many people, it will mean new jobs and better jobs.
“Our Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement promotes all the things that Canadians and Europeans care about: decency in the workplace, our health and safety, our cultural diversity, the quality of the land, sea and air that surround us.
“By scrapping almost all import duties, European exporters of industrial and agricultural goods will save up to 500 million euros every year,” Juncker concluded.