Canada trade agreement enters into force

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 21, 2017

"CETA is a modern and progressive agreement, underlining our commitment to free and fair trade based on values".

"This agreement encapsulates what we want our trade policy to be - an instrument for growth that benefits European companies and citizens", European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement.

"It helps us shape globalisation and the rules that govern global commerce", she said.

The EU and Canada signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in October of a year ago, but it only entered into force on Thursday, albeit provisionally.

The provisional application of CETA on 21 September follows its approval by EU member states, expressed in the Council, and by the European Parliament.

The accord scraps most customs duties, cuts prices and improves choices for consumers.

Left out of the deal until the end of the ratification process is a controversial investment protection scheme, a usual component of global trade deals.

Under the scheme, companies have recourse to legal arbitration if they believe their rights have been violated by a change in government policy.

This provision has raised huge concerns among pressure groups on the Continent which fear a rollback of European regulation on the environment and health by powerful multinational players. "CETA will be a success story and I am confident it is going to set the standard for future trade deals".

"It is unacceptable for CETA to come into force before national parliaments have had their say", said Greenpeace trade campaigner Kees Kodde.

Greenpeace for instance is concerned that "Canada has weaker food safety and labeling standard than the European Union, and industrial agriculture is more heavily dependent on pesticides and GM crops". Belgium's Wallonia region nearly derailed it by demanding concessions.

Negotiations for that deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), have however frozen since the election of Donald Trump, who reached the United States presidency on an staunchly anti-globalisation platform.

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