On 15 February 2017, the European Parliament approved the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). CETA removes most of the remaining tariffs and allows for better reciprocal access to markets for goods and services in the EU and Canada. Compliance with common rules and the creation of open market access in this way will help CETA parties ensure and increase their prosperity. CETA does not only create better opportunities for European producers of industrial products, agricultural products and services. It also reaffirms social and environmental standards and provides for a modern form of investment protection. CETA is a modern agreement that offers its parties a great opportunity to play an active role in globalization and to set fair and solid rules for this process. The high standards agreed between the EU and Canada will serve as a benchmark for future trade agreements. CETA has been applied on an interim basis since September 21, 2017. However, this applies only to chapters for which the EU is solely responsible. As a result of the provisional entry into force of the agreement, EU businesses and citizens have been directly benefiting from CETA since 21 September 2017. Canada eliminates all tariffs on 98% of goods traded between the EU and Canada (with respect to customs positions). This will save EU businesses 590 million euros a year in tariffs. They also have the best access to Canadian federal, provincial and municipal public sector markets, which have ever been awarded to non-Canadian companies.
CETA will not enter into full force until all Member States have ratified the agreement in accordance with their national constitutional procedures. Among the provisions that must be ratified by all EU Member States are the provisions relating to investor-state dispute settlement procedures, which are dealt with under CETA by an investment tribunal which will be held accountable by the public. Click here and/or visit the European Commission website for detailed information on CETA and next steps. The final point is that the Commission is showing a realistic assessment of the benefits and limitations of free trade agreements when it asks the following question: “The central question of this study is: are trade agreements trade or is the EU just making trade-and-trade agreements anyway?” Firstly, the Commission reaffirms its strong and pro-trade policy, which is underpinned by the following economic reality. That the EU is the largest exporter of agri-food products, with exports of 129 billion euros in 2015. These export results were determined by EU agricultural policy, technological progress and trade policy. Over the next ten years, the European Commission estimates that 90% of the additional food demand will be produced outside the EU. The Commission therefore expects it to continue its support for free trade agreements.
It is not necessary. Countries opened their markets under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT, 1947) and then under the WTO (created in 1995). In addition, states have committed to liberalizing trade in more than 300 trade agreements (trade agreements that are notified to the WTO and are still in force today). In addition, there are many unilateral trade agreements in which developed and emerging countries provide preferential access to developing countries.