The EU’s Global Europe initiative is a “slow-burn” programme – inevitably so, as the bilateral agreements that it envisages take time to negotiate with trading partners.
The news over the last few days on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is therefore a significant milestone. Canadian and the EU officials have agreed a complete CETA text, to be initialled at the EU-Canada Summit in Ottawa on 25 September 2014.
The initialling ceremony in Ottawa next month is a further stage in a project in which TheCityUK and its members – particularly those with business in Canada - have taken a good deal of interest. The gains to be had from the EU-Canada CETA are potentially very large. The agreement is likely to cut import duties between Canada and the EU by 98% and could boost trade by 20%, or about $20bn. There are some corresponding market-opening measures for services, including financial and related professional services. And it is an agreement with a North American trading partner that could have a significant bearing on the even larger agreement – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – that is under negotiation with the United States.
As with all such agreements, completion of a full text and subsequent initialling are only the opening steps. Several further stages have then to be gone through before the agreement comes into operation. The agreement – all 1,500 pages of it - now needs to be translated into all EU languages and reviewed by lawyers. Once approved by the EU’s 28 member-states and Canada’s ten provinces it will then be formally signed (probably in 2015). It is expected to be ratified the EU's 28 member states and the Canadian provinces in the course of 2016.
In the meantime, Canada is losing no time in preparing to realise the advantages that the EU-Canada CETA holds in store. it has been announced by Canada that Canadian Prime Minister Harper and Minister Ed Fast (Minister for International Trade) will lead a trade mission to the United Kingdom in early September 2014 “to secure the jobs and first-mover competitive advantages the historic Canada-EU trade agreement creates”.