Canadian-European trade agreement could bolster growth

Exploring the consequences of CETA, the Canadian-European Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement

CETA.

This is an acronym Canadians can expect to see and hear a lot over the coming days, weeks and subsequent years.

CETA stands for the Canadian-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement. Essentially, what the trade agreement does is eliminate 98% of the tariffs between Canada and the EU.

What does that mean for the average Canadian?

It means that there will be significantly less taxes on goods and products that have been imported from European countries.

To use International Trade Minister François-Phillipe Champagne’s example, popular goods such as Belgian chocolates, Scandinavian furniture and French cosmetics will all be much cheaper to purchase and import into Canada.

For Canadian business owners, big and small, the agreement will open up a new market access of more than 500 million people within the European Union, which is comprised of 28 member states.

Being able to export Canadian goods with lower tariffs means that Canadian products will become more popular, easier to access and more affordable in Europe, driving the Canadian economy.

In the wake of Alberta’s hard-hitting recession, this could put a smile on the faces of struggling businesses owners.

A new market and easier trade means more customers, higher wages for employees and opportunities for growth. Hopefully, this deal encourages investment in Canadian companies, or those manufacturing within the country.

As well, for those in food production, particularly the business of fish, it could become much easier to export these goods to international buyers.

Minister Champagne said Canadians will see significant support and growth in the industries of aerospace technology (Bombardier, we’re looking at you use that latest bail-out to your advantage), agriculture and agri-food, fisheries and other seafood-related businesses.

It also means small businesses have the opportunity to sell their goods at a more affordable price to markets outside of their local sphere.

With the popularity of online shopping and small-home based businesses, the idea of selling products internationally may move closer to reality.

However, there has been rejection to the viable nature of the agreement, with some critics saying it is catered to “big business” and multi-national companies who have already established trading relationships internationally.

This means there is concern over driving out smaller companies, as they simply won’t be able to beat the prices and costs associated with exporting goods.

Trudeau signed the agreement in October of last year, with the European Parliament ratifying the agreement as of this week.

He will travel to Europe this week in order to address the European Parliament and continue to build support for this trade agreement.

As part of the agreement, both parties will be held to similar standards in labour and environmental areas of development and trade.

More information on the agreement, including guides for Canadian companies on exporting internationally, is available at international.gc.ca.