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EU: Canadian Free Trade Agreement Could Apply From April

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

16 February 2017

Members of the European Parliament have approved the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, in a decision that could allow the deal to be applied provisionally from April.

CETA was approved on February 15 by 408 votes to 254, with 33 abstentions.

The free trade deal could be applied provisionally from the first day of the second month following the date both sides have notified each other that they completed all necessary ratification procedures. MEPs expect this to be the case on April 1, 2017, at the earliest. However, as CETA is classed as a "mixed agreement," it will also need to be ratified by national and regional parliaments.

Upon CETA's entry into force, Canada will eliminate duties worth EUR400m (USD425.5m) each year for goods originating from the EU. Once the agreement is fully implemented, that figure will rise to more than EUR500m a year.

According to the European Parliament's site, "CETA will not remove tariff barriers in the fields of public services, audio-visual and transport services, or from certain agricultural products such as dairy, poultry, and eggs. Imports from Canada will have to satisfy all EU product rules and regulations."

CETA also contains a new mechanism for the resolution of investor-state disputes: a public Investment Court System.

Artis Pabriks, Parliament's rapporteur for CETA, said: "By adopting CETA, we chose openness and growth and high standards over protectionism and stagnation. Canada is a country with whom we share common values and an ally we can rely on. Together we can build bridges, instead of a wall, for the prosperity of our citizens. CETA will be a lighthouse for future trade deals all over the world."

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström welcomed the vote. She commented: "Canada is an important economic partner, with yearly trade between us worth nearly EUR1 trillion. Once the Canadian Parliament has ratified this agreement, the next step is to put it provisionally in place, which I hope can be done swiftly and effectively. Citizens and companies on both sides of the Atlantic should start reaping these benefits very soon."

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on EU member states to "conduct an inclusive and thorough discussion at national level with the relevant stakeholders in the context of the national ratification process of the agreement."

TAGS: free trade agreement (FTA) | export duty | tariffs | trade treaty | agreements | Canada | import duty | standards | regulation | trade | European Union (EU) | services | Europe

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