Failure to ratify Ceta 'detrimental' to Ireland's post-Covid recovery

Committee on European Affairs will hear from a number of speakers on the trade deal
Failure to ratify Ceta 'detrimental' to Ireland's post-Covid recovery

Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan said she would not back the trade deal. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Failure to ratify the controversial Ceta trade deal will be "detrimental" to Ireland's post-Covid recovery, an Oireachtas Committee will hear tomorrow.

The Committee on European Affairs will hear from a number of speakers on the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (Ceta), including Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA) chair Chris Collenette.

Mr Collenette's opening statement notes that it is ICBA's position "that the immediate ratification of Ceta is of great importance to the country’s economy — and that not doing so will be detrimental to its post-Covid recovery". It says failure to ratify Ceta could weaken Canada and Ireland's relationship "and make Ireland less attractive not only to Canadian investment in the second instance, but also to investment from other countries".

It is estimated that over 25,000 jobs in Ireland are directly related to exports to Canada and the number of jobs provided by Canadian companies in Ireland has grown by 25% since 2018 to over 15,000.

Canadian companies expanding into Ireland has more than doubled since Brexit was passed.

Trade surplus with Canada

In 2020, Ireland enjoyed a trade surplus of €1.7bn with Canada, with €2.1bn of Irish goods being exported to the country.

Mr Collenette says "there is no Irish business person who, if they were making €1.7bn more than their partner as the result of a provisional agreement, would not formalise that agreement as quickly as possible".

Fifteen other member states have already ratified Ceta; however, Ireland has postponed the vote repeatedly when it became clear that Green Party TDs Patrick Costello and Neasa Hourigan would not back the deal.

Climate campaigners say Ceta would hamper efforts to tackle the climate emergency because a mechanism within the deal, the Investor Court System, allows for multinational companies to sue a state for damages if it introduces new laws or policies that the company thinks will reduce its future profits.

Legal challenge

Mr Costello has launched a legal challenge against the State on the constitutionality of Ceta, expected to before the courts in June after a number of delays.

Mr Costello said at the time: "I had sought the opinion of counsel on the ratification process, in particular, the Investor Court System (ICS) element of Ceta which will come into effect if ratified.

"It is the opinion of counsel that there is a good stateable case that the ratification of Ceta and, in particular, the ratification of the ICS without a referendum, would be contrary to Article 15 and Article 34 of the Constitution."

It is understood that the Government will not move to ratify the deal until court proceedings have ended.

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