Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the Canada-EU summit Wednesday by praising the “progress” resulting from CETA, their free trade deal, while European Council president Donald Tusk called Ottawa the bloc’s “closest transatlantic partner.” Their mutual praise contrasted with the strained ties between Europe and the United States under President Donald Trump and his protectionist administration.
“CETA goes far beyond lowering trade barriers and reaching new markets... With CETA, we’re doing trade differently,” Trudeau said at the start of the 17th summit.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) went into effect in practically its entirety in September 2017 and so far has been ratified by 13 of the 28 European Union member states and Canada.
The pact removes tariffs on nearly all goods and services between Canada and Europe, which the EU says eliminates 590 million euros ($890 million Canadian/$665 million) in customs duties each year. Since the accord came into effect, EU exports to Canada have risen 15 percent, a European official said.
Canadian exports to the EU rose seven percent in 2018 compared to the previous year to $44.5 billion, according to Canadian government figures.
But the agreement is controversial: some environmentalists, social activists and free trade sceptics argue it gives too much power to corporations and does not give citizens a balancing right to take legal action if companies break the rules.