EU,Canada agree start of free trade agreement

Justin Trudeau and Jean-Claude Juncker at the G20 meeting in Hamburg,on 8 July 2017.[Commission]

The European Union and Canada said on Saturday(8 July)they had agreed to start a free trade agreement on 21 September,paving the way for over 90%of the treaty to come into effect.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement(CETA)has been championed by both sides as a landmark deal for open markets against a protectionist tide,but last-minute wrangles over cheese and pharmaceuticals were holding up its start.

CETA start hits snag over cheese quota dispute with Canada

The EU’s pending trade deal with Canada has hit an unexpected snag over quotas for cheese imported from Europe and EU officials said on Thursday(15 June)they were“hopeful”the two sides could overcome the differences and allow the deal to take effect.

“Meeting at the G20 in Hamburg,reconfirming our joint commitment to the rules-based international trading system,we agreed to set the date of 21 September 2017 to start the provisional application of the agreement,thus allowing for all the necessary implementing measures to be taken before that date,”European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

“It is by opening up to each other, by working closely with those who share the same values that we will shape and harness globalisation,” the joint declaration said.

The agreement will enter definitively into force once all 28 EU member states and parliaments ratify it.

The EU had not been satisfied that Canada would effectively open up its markets to 17,700 additional tonnes of EU cheese and provide guarantees for the patents of European pharmaceuticals.

A spokesman for Canadian trade minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the allocation of the cheese tariff rate quota would be made before the September deadline.

“So what happens now is that both sides will complete their internal processes and closely consult one another on how the agreement will be implemented. This is about ensuring a smooth transition to a strong start for CETA,” the spokesman said.

Both sides had been hoping for the provisional implementation of the agreement this month.

On 4 July the Commission registered a European Citizens’ Initiative against CETA and TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), as introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, allows citizens to request new EU legislation once a million signatures from seven member states have been collected asking the European Commission to do so.