Q&A: Broad welcome for CETA but beef farmers worried

Q&A: CETA trade deal
Q&A: Broad welcome for CETA but beef farmers worried

As a result, the deal is on course to enter into force in the New Year.

The negotiations have finished, and the European Parliament and all EU member states are on course to give their formal ratification.

The European Commission says CETA will help to generate EU growth and jobs by boosting exports, lowering the cost of imports, offering greater choice for consumers, and upholding the EU’s strict standards for products.

What is CETA?

CETA is an international treaty between the EU and Canada.

It is the first trade agreement between the EU and a major world economy. It addresses many issues at the Canadian federal and provincial level that affect European exports of goods and services to Canada.

The agreement is expected to make it much easier for EU exporters and investors to do business in Canada, and to help secure jobs in Europe.

Why is this agreement important for the EU?

The EU wants to have closer economic ties with Canada, a like-minded partner. Canada is a sizeable market, an important destination for European investment, and is rich in natural resources that Europe needs.

The agreement is expected to increase trade in goods and services between the EU and Canada by nearly a quarter. Overall, CETA is expected to lift EU output by about €12 billion a year.

How much trade is there already between Canada and EU?

Canada is the EU’s 12th most important trading partner. The EU is Canada’s second biggest trading partner after the US, and accounts for nearly 10% of its external trade.

Trade in goods between the EU and Canada is worth almost €60 billion a year. Machinery, transport equipment and chemicals are the EU’s main exports to Canada.

The EU is the second largest foreign investor in Canada, and Canada is the fourth largest foreign investor in the EU. Canadian companies established in Europe create many jobs, share their know-how, and export from Europe to foreign markets.

The value of the goods they produce in the EU is worth much more than all EU-Canada trade.

How will CETA affect farming?

Farming is important for both the EU and Canada. Food production concerns all of us, not only farmers. CETA shows we can achieve a trade agreement without either side having to sacrifice its interests in this area.

Opening markets has the potential to keep prices down and provide consumers with more choice. As a major producer of high-quality food, the EU will benefit from being able to sell more to a high-income market. In particular, CETA will provide extra protection for the wide range of EU produce from a specific geographical place, such as Parma ham, Black Forest Ham or Roquefort cheese.

Will CETA affect EU rules on food safety or the environment or affect our right to regulate in the future?

No. CETA will not affect EU rules on food safety or the environment. As now, Canadian products will only be able to be imported to and sold in the EU if they fully respect our regulations. For example, CETA does not affect EU restrictions on beef containing growth hormones or GMOs. Nor will CETA restrict either the EU or Canada from passing new laws in areas of public interest such as the environment, and health and safety.

Is CETA a blueprint for TTIP, the agreement currently being negotiated with the US?

CETA is a landmark agreement, and the lessons learned during the CETA talks will certainly inspire the EU negotiators working with the US. The EU’s ambition in both sets of talks is similar, comprehensive agreements that help our companies prosper in the transatlantic market place, in order to generate growth and create jobs.

However, CETA and TTIP are two separate negotiations with two different partners. The EU’s economic relations with the US, our biggest trading partner, and Canada, are not the same.

CETA shows that a meaningful free trade agreement between advanced partners is possible, but it does not prejudge the outcome of the EU-US negotiations.

When will CETA become operational?

The agreement will be submitted to the EU Council and the European Parliament for discussion and approval. The EU will apply the agreement only once both institutions agree.

What is the Irish reaction?

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed says our starting position must be pro-trade, in favour of CETA, pro-TTIP, and in favour of any other trade deal that, on balance, reflects our best interests. “I believe that, on balance, CETA reflects our best interests.”

“On balance, anybody who has looked at this from the perspective of Irish agriculture would undoubtedly conclude that the interests of Irish agriculture are best served by CETA.

However, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association says CETA includes a quota for 50,000 tons of beef, and the last thing we need is more beef being imported.

“It is clear that the EU market does not have capacity to absorb it and it will lead to further downward pressure on price. Irish beef farmers are under immense pressure and the implementation of CETA will further undermine their viability,” said ICSA President Patrick Kent.

ICMSA has also said the significant beef concession is not acceptable, and needs to be amended.

IFA livestock committee chairman Angus Woods has warned that the EU market cannot absorb large volumes of additional imports as proposed by the Commission in trade deals such as CETA, TTIP and Mercosur.

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