Last 21th September marked the fourth anniversary of the provisional implementation of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Compared with 2016 – the last full year before CETA entered into force – total trade flows between the EU and Canada witnessed an increase of 15.3% for goods in 2020 despite the pandemic. Similarly, trade in agricultural goods increased 34.7% in 2020 compared to 2016. These positive trends highlight the importance of CETA as a bedrock of our relationship with Canada.
The EU and Canada feature some of the most dynamic economies in the world. Canada is the world’s ninth largest economy by GDP and it is a major importer of goods and services, providing many opportunities for EU businesses of all sizes.
CETA is an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) that covers virtually all sectors and aspects of EU-Canada trade. Since September 2017, its broad scope has offered a full range of benefits and advantages for EU businesses – including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in many sectors. Thanks to CETA, SMEs can leverage preferential access and reduced barriers to help grow their business. Trade agreements such as CETA are now more important than ever in advancing businesses’ economic recovery during the Covid-19 pandemic and helping SMEs grow their businesses globally.
CETA is also an agreement which contains strong commitments on sustainable development, and which provides an excellent platform for the two sides to cooperate and exchange views on a wide range of sustainability issues, from climate change to labour rights. In particular, the EU and Canada are translating into concrete actions the three recommendations adopted at the first meeting of the CETA Joint Committee in September 2018 on trade and gender, trade and climate and trade and SMEs. Over the past three years, we have organised several joint activities – including a conference on CETA and the Paris Agreement, workshops on clean tech and a seminar on gender-responsive trade – which have helped to ensure that CETA is implemented in an inclusive and sustainable way.
In cooperation with the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Canada (EUCCAN), the European Commission is organising a round table for SMEs on 21 September 2021 to mark the fourth anniversary since CETA’s provisional entry into force. This will be an opportunity for European SMEs to exchange experiences in leveraging the agreement to enter the Canadian market and learn about the opportunities created by CETA, as well as to get practical input from experts on how to tap into resources such as the EU’s Access2Markets portal, the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) and the services of national trade promotion authorities. The concrete suggestions made during the round table will feed into the Commission’s input for the EU-Canada action plan to assist SMEs better to exploit CETA’s opportunities.