EU- Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations were launched in May
2009 and the content of the CETA and its general modalities were agreed in June 2009. On
18 th October 2013, the EU and Canada reached a political agreement on the key elements of
the CETA including the very sensitive issue of tariff rate quotas in agriculture. The
negotiations were concluded and formally welcomed in the Joint Statement at the EU Canada
Summit on 26 September 2014. This agreement will remove over 99% of tariffs between the
two economies and create sizeable new market access opportunities in services and
CETA will significantly improve business opportunities for Irish and European companies in
Canada. With CETA, European companies will receive the best treatment that Canada has
ever offered to any trading partner, thus levelling the playing field on the Canadian market
for EU companies.
By opening markets, CETA should support growth and jobs in the EU and Ireland and bring
further benefits for consumers. It has the potential to keep prices down and provide
consumers with greater choice of quality products. CETA will not change EU standards.
Standards and regulations related to food safety, product safety, consumer protection, health,
environment, social or labour standards etc. will remain untouched. All imports from Canada
will have to satisfy all EU product rules and regulations – without exception.
Benefits for Ireland
The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) is a new generation
agreement that will remove over 99% of tariffs between the EU and Canada and will create
sizeable new market access opportunities in services and investment. CETA covers virtually
every aspect of economic activity. It offers significant opportunities for growth in trade with
Canada. The CETA opens up public procurement markets in the Canadian provinces giving
Irish firms increased access to Canadian public sector purchasing. Ireland also gains
unlimited tariff free access for most of our important food exports. Irish firms will also
benefit from the recognition of product standards and certification, thus saving on ‘double
testing’ on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition, Ireland successfully campaigned for a low
beef import quota from Canada to the EU thereby safeguarding our important EU market in
this area. With a long history of cultural, economic and political ties, Ireland’s enterprises are
particularly well placed to take up opportunities to trade more easily with Canada.
There are a range of sectoral opportunities for Irish Companies in Canada, including-
Digital Media, Content & Gaming,
Government Software Applications,
Agricultural Machinery, Engineering & Materials handling, and
Life-sciences & Medical devices.
CETA will save on duty costs
CETA will bring tangible benefits to consumers and companies by eliminating or cutting
customs duties– some of the most far reaching achieved by the EU in a trade agreement. This
will provide important market opportunities for companies including SMEs and could save
exporters around €470 million a year for industrial goods and €42 million a year for
agricultural goods. Importantly, most customs duties will disappear as soon as CETA comes
Cutting customs duties will not lower or change EU standards. Canadian imports will have to
respect EU regulations. 100% of the tariff lines on industrial products for both sides will be
fully eliminated, of which 99.6% upon entry into force in the case of Canada and 99.4% upon
entry into force in the case of the EU. Canada will eliminate duties for 90.9% of all its
agricultural tariff lines upon entry into force of CETA. After 7 years, the tariffs for 91.7% of
agricultural lines will be eliminated.
New freedoms to trade in goods and services
Mutual recognition of professional qualifications
The agreement provides a framework to facilitate the mutual recognition of qualifications in
regulated professions such as architects, accountants and engineers. The relevant
professional organisations in the EU and Canada now have a framework that sets out the
conditions for the negotiation of mutual recognition agreements for their respective
professions. These will then have to be negotiated and agreed by the EU and Canada.
Easier transfers of company staff and other professionals between the EU and Canada
CETA will make it easier for firms to move staff temporarily between the EU and Canada.
This will facilitate European companies' operations in Canada. It will be also easier for other
professionals to temporarily supply legal, accounting, architectural or similar services.
Improve ability of European companies to provide after sales services
CETA will make it easier for firms to export equipment, machinery and software by allowing
firms to send maintenance engineers and other specialists to provide after-sales and related
Access to Canadian public tenders
Canada has opened up its government tenders to EU companies to a greater extent than with
any of its other trading partners. Firms will be able to bid to provide goods and services not
only at federal level but also to Canadian provinces and municipalities, the first non-Canadian
firms to be able to do so. Canada’s provincial procurement market is estimated to be double
the size of its federal equivalent. There is also a proposal to create a single electronic
procurement website, which corresponds to existing intra-EU arrangements, and would
greatly facilitate the effective access of firms, especially small and medium sized enterprises,
to procurement opportunities in Canada 1 .
Avoiding costs related to double testing
The EU and Canada have agreed to accept each other’s conformity assessment certificates in
areas such as electrical goods, electronic and radio equipment, toys, machinery or measuring
equipment. This means that a conformity assessment body in the EU can test EU products
for export to Canada according to Canadian rules and vice versa. This will avoid both sides
doing the same test and could greatly reduce costs for companies and consumers alike. This
is of particular benefit to smaller companies for whom paying twice for the same test can be
Trade in services
Around half of the overall GDP gains for the EU are expected to come from liberalising trade
in services. CETA will bring new opportunities for European companies by creating access
the Canadian market in key sectors such as financial services, telecommunications, energy
and maritime transport. The GDP gains for the EU could amount to up to €5.8 billion per
year, once the agreement is fully implemented.
Commitment to Sustainable Development
In CETA, the EU and Canada affirm their commitment to sustainable development. Both
agree that more trade and investment should further environmental protection and labour
rights – and not be at their expense. The EU and Canada are committed to CETA helping to
ensure that economic growth, social development, and environmental protection are mutually
supportive. CETA integrates the EU’s and Canada's obligations to international rules on
workers’ rights and environmental protection, and gives a strong role to EU and Canadian
civil society in participating in the implementation of the commitments in these areas in
Most duties will be eliminated at entry into force. Besides tariffs, the fish package also
includes other elements of interest to the fishing sector, such as better access to Canadian fish
for the EU processing industry. Sustainable fisheries will be developed in parallel, in
particular with regard to monitoring, control and surveillance measures, and the fight against
illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures
CETA consolidates the existing EU-Canada Veterinary Agreement and creates a more
predictable environment for EU exporters of plants and plant products.
1 (Note -two exceptions have been citied in two provinces - energy utilities and public transport vehicles in the
provinces of Ontario and Québec).
The Regulatory Cooperation Forum as set out in CETA, is a voluntary cooperation
mechanism. It cannot change existing or develop new legislation on its own and does not
have any decision-making powers. It can only make recommendations to regulators and
legislators. Any initiative entailing a change in EU regulations can only be introduced and
pursued outside the CETA framework, in compliance with the ordinary legislative procedure.
Trade Agreements including CETA cannot oblige any country to privatise its public services
or prevent governments from expanding the range of services they supply to the public.
Publicly funded services such as health, education, social services and water services are
explicitly excluded from the remit of the trade negotiations, by virtue of the mandate.
Therefore, all EU Member States’ governments remain entirely free to manage and organise
these services as they see fit.
Application of CETA
Given the position taken by Ireland and other Member States, the Commission has submitted
CETA to the Council for decision as a mixed agreement. That is one requiring both EU and
individual Member States ratification. As this process may take a number of years to
complete the agreement provides for provisional application.
Provisional application is a standard process in Free Trade Agreements. This provides for the
coming into effect of those areas over which the EU has competence. European Commission
is currently finalising the text on the provisional application of CETA, for submission to the
Council for a decision. It will be a matter for the Council and the European Parliament to
decide on the signature and provisional application of CETA.
The EU Commission is working towards the signature of CETA at the EU-Canada Summit
scheduled to take place on the 27 th October 2016. EU Trade Ministers will meet in
Luxembourg on the 18 th October 2016 to decide on the signature and provisional application
The full entering into force of CETA will be subject, in the first instance, to a Council
decision, with the consent of the European Parliament. Secondly, it will be subject to the
approval of all Member States through the relevant national ratification procedures. Dáil
Eireann will be part of the final decision to ratify CETA.
It is in Ireland’s interest to see strong progress towards the implementation of CETA as it will
provide opportunities for Irish based firms to further diversify their export markets. The
issue of growing market share in other markets is made even more important by the result of
the recent UK referendum on its membership of the EU.
Trade Policy Section
Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation
6 th October 2016