Canada-Europe free trade deal concluded, ratification two years off
Canada and the European Union have agreed to free the movement of goods, services, investment and labour with a pact-in-principle that challenges Canadian business to expand overseas.
“This is a big deal; this is the biggest deal Canada has ever made. Indeed, it is a historical achievement,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The prime minister announced the agreement-in-principle Friday with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels.
But the text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA remains a confidential document that still requires “drafting and fine tuning,” a Canadian official said in Brussels on condition he not be identified.
It could be another 18 to 24 months before final European approval is given, and Canada will likely proceed along a similar time frame, officials say.
Ottawa instead released a 44-page overview and other summary documents. The material is largely silent on what Canada had to cede to Europe, especially in sectors such as dairy and patent protection for pharmaceuticals.
The dairy sector’s farmers immediately accused the government of a “giveaway,” and the generic drug industry warned that health-care costs will rise.
Harper addressed their concerns head on, acknowledging there might be some pain. But he defended the deal as “excellent” for Canada in the long-term, and one that would be good for families looking for cheaper products and business seeking new opportunities in a huge market. (Source: CTV News)