Mixed reaction to EU-Canada trade deal in Brussels

The proposed EU-Canada trade deal or CETA came up for discussion in Brussels this week, where it was met with a mixed reaction from MEPs.

International Trade Committee MEPs, farmers, businesses, public health and trade union representatives all debated the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) on Wednesday.

According to the European Parliament, agriculture and business representatives where generally supportive of the agreement, provided that new market access would foster growth and competitiveness.

However, trade union and public health advocates raised concerns about the possible impact on services, the level of protection for workers and the environment.

Many MEPs argued that CETA is a fair, transparent and geopolitically important agreement that would benefit the European economy.

While others expressed concerns about the social and environmental standards and that the draft declaration does little to dispel such fears as it is not legally binding.

The Parliament also reports that a couple of MEPs plainly rejected the deal, echoing fears that it would weaken democracy and only benefit multinational companies.

What’s included in CETA?

Under the trade agreement, the total duty-free access the EU will grant to Canada for fresh and frozen beef is 50,000t, which can be broken down in to 15,000t of frozen beef, 30,838t of fresh/chilled beef and 4,162t of fresh beef.

Canada will also be granted a duty-free access for 75,000t of pork, which will be added to the existing WTO quota of 4,625t and consolidated into CETA to simplify the administration of this quota.

Under the trade agreement, EU beef and sheepmeat market access into Canada will be fully liberalised at zero in-quota rates.

Along with meat shipments, Canada will also have duty free access into the EU dairy market, while the EU will have a high value cheese quota of 16,800t and an industrial cheese quota of 1,700t.

The trade agreement, which is expected to be cleared later this year, will only come into force with the European Parliaments agreement.

Does CETA satisfy Irish farmers?

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has said he is satisfied that Irish farming interests will be protected under CETA agreement with Canada.

The CETA trade deal between Canada and the European Union it is expected to be ratified later this year, he said.

Under deal, Minister Creed said Canadian beef will gain greater access to the European market, while greater access to the Canadian market will be granted for EU dairy products, notably cheese.

He also said that the concessions granted by Canada on market access for EU beef will benefit Irish producers.

“I will continue to press to ensure that the cumulative impact of beef concessions under CETA and other trade agreements is closely monitored so that that the approach continues to be in the best interests of EU and Irish agriculture,” he said.