CETA comes into force today, 21-Sep-2017
If you are unfamiliar with CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, this groundbreaking trade agreement between Canada and the European Union will be a game-changer for Canada. Until today, the actual date for implementation of the agreement has been a moving target. The Canadian government announced at least two previous dates, but each time the dates passed without the agreement coming into force due to issues that needed to be resolved.
So what does this mean for Canadians? Today, 98% of Canadian products can now enter the EU tariff-free. Within two years, 99% of products will be tariff-free. The agreement embodies much of what the EU system is based upon; the four pillars of freedom are entrenched in the agreement.
The Four Pillars include the freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital. This philosophy has brought significant prosperity and freedom to European citizens. Within the”Schengen Area,” EU citizens can move freely across national borders without passing through customs, similar to Canadians moving from Province to Province. EU citizens can work in any Schengen country without needing working visas or citizenship in the new country they have chosen. Similar freedoms exist for goods, services and money.
Under CETA, similar freedoms are available to Canadians, although with some restrictions since CETA does not mean that Canada is now an EU Member State. Goods can flow from Canada to the EU and from the EU to Canada without tariff restrictions, except in some cases. Businesses who want to set up operations in the EU can do this with limited restrictions. Canadian professional workers can move to the EU to staff these new operations without requiring restrictive work visas. Investment in EU operations has gained protection through EU law to protect these investments better. Canadian service businesses can now provide their services to EU customers with little restriction. Canadian business now has free access to a marketplace of 500 million new customers, nearly 14 times larger than the Canadian market. The EU market is worth nearly €2.4 trillion in exports alone. This is an opportunity Canadians can’t afford to miss.
With the instability created by the US Trump administration and the bully tactics used to force the renegotiation of NAFTA, Canadian businesses should take the opportunity presented to us today to turn our eyes to the EU, a union of open countries friendly to Canadians. People who want to work with us want our products and services. Many Canadians support scrapping NAFTA if key provisions can’t be met.
For more information on CETA and what it will mean for Canadians, please see Doing Business in Europe — CETA: Canada and the European Union Usher In a New Era of Trade.
21-September-2017 is a day to celebrate. The future looks bright!
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