Politicians in Canada and Europe hailed a free trade agreement announced on Friday as historic and precedent setting for future deals between the EU and other nations, especially the United States.
At a press conference in Brussels on Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Union Commission President Jose Manual Barroso revealed details of the new trade deal that's been negotiated for nearly five years.
“This trade agreement is an historic win for Canada,” Harper said. “It represents thousands of new jobs for Canadians, and a half-billion new customers for Canadian businesses.”
Canadian sectors like manufacturing, mining, technology, forestry and agriculture stand to benefit significantly from increased access to 28 countries that generate $17 trillion in annual economic activity, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Through trade agreements, Canadian businesses now have preferential access to the United States and European Union – some 800 million consumers – the only G8 country with such rights. Virtually all – some 98 percent – of tariffs between Canada and Europe are to be eliminated when the deal is ratified, roughly two years from now, CBC News reported.
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Among the details, the deal allows Canadian ranchers to increase exports across the Atlantic to about 80,000 tons of pork from about 6,600. For beef producers, that jumps to 70,000 from about 16,000. Canadian auto manufacturers can now ship 100,000 vehicles overseas, and farmers will be able to sell their wheat and cereals in Europe, without encountering obstacles.
In exchange, tariffs on luxury goods from Europe should be cheaper in Canada, including wine and spirits, automobiles, cheese and perfume. EU construction giants also get a chance to bid on projects in Canada, for example.
Most in Canada agree the deal is a game changer, Reuters said, and eclipses the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed between Canada, the US and Mexico.
“The Canadian government has secured real and substantial access to one of the world’s few billion-dollar export markets, and they did it ahead of our major competitors,” Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance executive director Kathleen Sullivan told Reuters.
Details must still be announced about an arrangement that Canadian and EU officials spent roughly five years discussing. Friday’s announcement comes about a year later than expected, CBC said.
The accord is widely seen as a possible template for EU efforts to conclude a similar Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States which is touted as one of the biggest free-trade accords ever, Agence France-Presse reported.
The most recent talks between US and EU officials about the TTIP stalled this month due to the government shutdown, France 24 said.
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