Perspective: Kirton McConkie Law Blog

EU and Canada Signed Landmark Trade Agreement

While the U.S. was fully immersed in its presidential elections and took distance from the T.T.I.P. (the long-negotiated international trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union), and while Great Britain was consumed with its Brexit, the EU responded by creating a free-trade zone with another powerful G7 member, Canada. On Sunday, October 30th, the EU and Canada signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a free-trade agreement that, when in force, will eliminate 98% of the tariffs between Canada and the EU and allegedly allow for a half-billion Euros in savings in export taxes.

On Sunday, October 30th

With CETA, Canada entered into the biggest bilateral trade agreement since NAFTA, reduced its dependency on the U.S. and significantly strengthened its commercial alliance with its second-biggest trading partner, the EU (Canada and the EU traded $69 billion in products last year).  Also, the EU gave a strong signal of support to free trade and the free movement of workers at a time when international trade is heavily criticized by supporters of populism on both sides of the Atlantic.[1]

In addition to cutting custom duties and thus lowering prices, CETA will provide EU and Canadian companies with better conditions for doing business than companies from other countries, particularly in the telecommunications, finance, professional services, container shipping, environmental services and dredging sectors.  For instance, CETA will create the basis for mutual recognition in regulated professions such as accountants, architects and engineers.  CETA will also open more tenders to European firms for Canadian public contracts; it will strengthen protection of intellectual property rights by elevating Canadian standards to those of the EU and by increasing enforcement with respect to patents, designs and copyrights; it will allow for easier transfers of staff and other professionals between the EU and Canada and it will demand compliance with international rules protecting individual rights at work and the environment.  

Beyond these issues, CETA is also intended to facilitate cooperation regarding regulatory practices and investments in Canada’s and the EU’s respective markets.  CETA will provide for a mechanism to protect foreign investments in both regions, including a dispute settlement procedure triggered in the event investors claim to have suffered losses due to discriminatory treatment by a state.  Such arbitration procedure will be administered by a permanent tribunal comprised of 15 members appointed by the EU and Canada who will hear cases in panels of three members each. 

In short, CETA is well positioned to provide significant trade opportunities not only for EU and Canadian companies, but also possibly for U.S. companies with EU or Canadian subsidiaries.  This will be a step in the right direction for firms, large and small, with a global outlook and international operations.

For any questions, please contact Barbara Bagnasacco at 801.321.4885 or

[1] CETA was originally opposed by Wallonia, a French-speaking region in Belgium whose Parliament endorsed the accord only after obtaining guarantees on protection of certain food products from competition, genetically modified crops and arbitration procedures.