Industry group wants government action on CETA

Industry group wants government action on CETA
Sep 25, 2020

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The European Union has failed to honour some of its commitments, the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance said

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

An industry organization is calling on the federal government to ensure a trading partner is meeting its commitments in a trade deal.

The European Union (EU) isn’t holding up its end of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) three years after it came into effect, the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) said.

Canada had trade deficits with the EU during the first two years of the agreement.

The sector is “gravely concerned that the EU is not respecting the spirit of the commitments it made when negotiations concluded,” CAFTA said in a Sept. 21 letter, three years to the day the trade deal came into effect.

CAFTA sent the letter to the federal ministers of agriculture (Marie-Claude Bibeau), foreign affairs (François-Philippe Champagne), finance (Chrystia Freeland) and small business, export promotion and international trade (Mary Ng).

When the two parties signed the agreement, the EU committed to removing hurdles, which would help Canada increase its exports by $1.5 billion annually.

But because of EU laws and individual country laws, some Canadian ag products haven’t been afforded entry.

For beef and pork, for example, the EU doesn’t recognize the effectiveness of the meat processing industry. Canola farmers’ sustainability practices haven’t been recognized and the EU hasn’t issues rulings on “import tolerance processes for crop protection products,” CAFTA’s letter says.

“That’s why we believe the federal government should immediately deploy the Team Canada approach, mobilizing concerted efforts to defend Canadian trade interests …,” the letter reads.

Other politicians want the federal government to act on this front too.

Five former premiers, Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne, Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall, Manitoba’s Gary Doer, Alberta’s Ed Stelmach and Quebec’s Jean Charest wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau asking him to fix this issue.

“In exchange for agreeing to open up many areas under provincial authority, provinces expected reciprocal benefits in return. Chief among them was significant market access to the EU for the agriculture and agri-food sector,” the premiers’ letter says.

A representative for Minister Ng responded to the former premiers, assuring them that Ottawa is working on rectifying the issue.

“As the signatories acknowledged in their letter, our government is actively working to resolve challenges such as the non-tariff barriers posed by EU regulations in agriculture and food,” Ryan Nearing, press secretary for the international trade minister, said in a statement, reported the Globe and Mail. “Minister Ng has raised this issue with her EU counterparts numerous times, including in her many discussions with former EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan.”

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