Trade in meat and other food products between the EU and Canada is set to increase substantially following the signing of a new trade deal.
The landmark Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was finally sealed on Monday after the seven-year negotiating process threatened to be derailed at the last minute by opposition from Belgium’s Wallonia regional government.
The deal means that 99% of import duties will be eliminated on industrial goods and agricultural products, saving European exporters an estimated €500 million a year.
Trade in meat, in particular, is expected to see a significant uplift with Europe likely to import hundreds of thousands of tonnes of duty-free Canadian pork, beef and bison meat.
The European Commission said the deal would create new opportunities for farmers and food producers, whilst protecting EU standards. Critics have expressed concern that trade deals such as CETA and its US cousin TTIP will result in a lowering of food safety and environmental standards which are classed as non-tariff barriers to trade; however the EC said that the terms of CETA mean only products that fully respect all EU regulations will be able to enter the EU market. This means that Canadian exporters will have to abide by EU laws on GMO products and on hormone-treated beef, which is currently outlawed in the EU.
The agreement also includes protection for distinctive products from specific geographical regions in the EU including Roquefort cheese, Prosciutto di Parma and Dutch Gouda cheese.
“Trade simply works, and we know it from experience,” said European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström. “When we get rid of unnecessary costs and overlapping bureaucracy, companies will try out new markets and hire more people."