By Dow Jones Business News, October 18, 2013, 12:45:00 PM EDT
EU, Canada See Ratification of Free-Trade Deal by 2015
By Matthew Dalton, Nirmala Menon and Laurence Norman
Leaders from the European Union and Canada expressed optimism that a broad free-trade deal sealed Friday could be
ratified by 2015, despite expected opposition from some farm sectors that fear being hurt by the changes.
Beyond eliminating tariffs on goods, the EU-Canada deal also would provide more access for services companies in both
regions and dismantle some regulations that limit trade, such as differing automobile standards.
The deal is one of the first to be completed bilaterally between the world's advanced economies following the collapse
of global trade talks in 2008. The U.S. and EU have both signed deals with South Korea; the EU is negotiating with Japan
and the U.S.; and the U.S. is also in talks with 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the Canada trade deal would "set some standards" for the
proposed EU-U.S. trade agreement.
At the same news conference in Brussels, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged that some sectors in
Canada could be hurt by the trade deal, such as dairy farmers.
But he said those effects should be "minimum and temporary," and that the government will help these groups adapt. He
also said the deal, which includes an extension of European pharmaceutical patents, could push up the price for some
medicines in Canada, but only after several years.
"This agreement is vastly positive for the Canadian economy across the board," Mr. Harper said. "And I would say that
over time, it is in fact in everyone's interests."
European beef and pig farmers also complained that the deal would hurt them.
The deal is Canada's largest since the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1992 with the U.S. and
Mexico. The scope is much more ambitious and comprehensive than Nafta, Canadian officials said.
It also means Canada will be the only Group of Eight country and one of the only developed countries in the world to
have preferential access to the EU and the U.S., the world's two largest markets, "with access to more than 800 million
of the world's most affluent consumers," according to a document released in Ottawa.
Mr. Harper said he expects the deal will be approved before Canada's next federal elections, which are expected to
take place in late 2015.
Mr. Barroso also said he expected the deal to be signed and ratified by the EU's 28 member states and the European
Parliament in 2015.
"I don't see any reasons to have doubts about its effective implementation" in the EU by 2015, he said. However, there
have been lengthy delays in the past in ratifying trade deals because of opposition among some European Parliament
Canadian cheese makers will be among the groups hit hardest by the deal. Exports of Europe's high-end cheeses, such as
French Roquefort and Bitto from Italy, are expected to double because of the deal.
"Dairy Farmers of Canada is angered and disappointed with this news as the reality is that Canada would lose its
small, artisan and local cheese makers and a world-leading industry with top quality products--within a short time
frame," the group said in a statement this week.
Ottawa has agreed to compensate cheese producers for losses caused directly by the deal. But Mr. Harper also insisted
the deal protected supply management and "to the extent we expect a loss of market share for Canadian cheese producers,
this loss will be minimum and temporary."
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, estimates that half of the economic benefits from the deal will
derive from gains in services, while a quarter will come from eliminating regulatory barriers to trade.
EU-Canada trade, valued at more than 80 billion euros ($109 billion) a year, would rise 23% because of the deal,
according to commission estimates.
Mr. Harper also said that Canada hoped the agreement would lead to visa-free travel between Europe and Canada, and
said his government had told the Czech Republic it plans to lift remaining visa restrictions in coming weeks.
Europe is also negotiating a trade deal with Japan. Additionally, EU member states Friday agreed on a mandate for the
commission to negotiate investment agreements with China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Mr. Barroso also said he expects some developments soon on trade talks between the EU and Brazil. The EU has been in
trade talks for years with Mercosur, a South American customs union that includes Brazil, but those have repeatedly
The official said, however, that the Brazilians are "now very much interested in coming to an agreement." Mr. Barroso
said he had discussed the issue with Brazil's president but didn't give further details.
Write to Matthew Dalton at email@example.com, Nirmala Menon at firstname.lastname@example.org and Laurence Norman at
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