By Salman Dostmohammad
AIMS on Campus Fellow
Negative public sentiment towards free trade deals in the U.S. is placing political pressure on the US-Canadian partnership. For Canada to sustain its economic prosperity, it is vital to diversify trade relations with other partners and reduce our dependency on the U.S. The ratification of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU) will strengthen both economies and increase Canada’s prosperity.
The EU is composed of 28 member states and home to 500 million people with annual economic activity of almost $18 trillion. CETA is a big deal for Canada as the EU is the world’s largest importing market for goods. Annual imports alone are worth more than Canada’s entire GDP. Thus CETA provides tremendous opportunities for Canadian businesses and exporters. A joint EU-Canada study found that CETA may bring a 20% boost in bilateral trade and a $12 billion annual increase to Canada’s economy. CETA also stands to benefit Atlantic Canada directly as the EU is the second largest export destination for the region.
The signing of CETA is a “game changer” for the region. Before CETA, Canada’s seafood industry was at a competitive disadvantage compared to competitors in Norway, Iceland and others when seeking access to the EU market. CETA will eliminate over 98% of tariffs on imported merchandise from Canada. This will create a level playing field for Canadian producers and processors of the seafood, forestry and agricultural industries to compete more effectively. CETA will have benefits not just for industries in Atlantic Canada but from coast to coast to coast such as Canadian farmed salmon, arctic char in the Yukon and oysters on the Pacific coast.
There is large support for CETA in the region. This includes the Prince Edward Island Potato Board, Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association, New Brunswick Forest Products Association, Maritime Lumber Bureau, Halifax Port Authority, Lobster Council of Canada, and more.
The agreement will provide the following benefits for the region:
- Increased cargo activity through the Port of Halifax as a result of increased trade volumes.
- Greater opportunities for Atlantic Canadian businesses to expand, compete and invest for growth that will benefit workers and create more jobs.
- Duty free access to the EU fish and seafood market for fishermen.
- The 8% duty on shipped lobsters will be eliminated, making local lobster products more competitive in Europe.
- Reduction on tariffs for agricultural products which can potentially increase sales, growth and prosperity for the agricultural sector.
All of this will mean new jobs and greater prosperity for Atlantic Canadians.