BRUSSELS, Belgium – The Canadian beef industry is applauding the completion of a new trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU). The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), finalized on Oct. 18, gives Canada's beef industry broader access to European export markets.

The Canadian government is calling CETA the biggest, most ambitious trade agreement that country has ever reached. The agreement gives Canada preferential market access to more than 500 million EU consumers in 28 countries. Approximately 98 percent of all EU tariffs will be eliminated the first day the agreement comes into force. The EU market currently generates C$17 trillion ($16.5 trillion) in annual economic activity.

"This trade agreement is an historic win for Canada," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "It represents thousands of new jobs for Canadians, and a half-billion new customers for Canadian businesses."

For Canada's beef industry, the EU holds great opportunities for Canadian beef and veal, according to Canada Beef. The elimination of tariffs translates to 64,960 tonnes of duty-free market access for Canadian beef and veal with a value of more than C$600 million ($582.2 million). Canada also will gain unlimited duty-free access to the EU with live cattle, genetics; most offal, tallow and rendered products; processed beef products; and hides and skins effective immediately.

"Canada's beef and veal marketers value the significant efforts of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, International Trade Minister Edward Fast and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister Gerry Ritz and are grateful for the work that's been done to gain additional trade opportunities for our industry and open doors to optimize the value of the Canadian beef brand globally," said Rob Meijer, president of Canada Beef. "We also recognize the efforts of the industry's trade policy organizations such as the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Canadian Meat Council and the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance for their role in promoting the needs of trade-reliant sectors during the trade negotiation process."