Ottawa – The European Union has voted in favour of CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada, concluding the ratification process.
The vote was held in Strasbourg on Feb. 15, with 408 votes in favour, 254 against and 33 abstentions.
Canada and the EU will now complete their respective legislative and regulatory processes that will bring virtually all significant parts of the agreement into force by spring 2017, says Canada’s federal government.
Trade between the two sides, says GlobalNews.ca, amounts to more than 60 billion euros ($63 billion) a year, and the EU expects the CETA deal to boost this by 20 per cent by removing almost all tariffs.
The European Commission says it approved CETA as it will create new opportunities for EU companies and save EU businesses more than 500 million Euros a year currently paid in tariffs on goods that are exported to Canada.
The deal allows EU companies access to Canadian public procurement contracts, including those at the provincial level, as well as federal and municipal.
When it comes to food, EU farmers and food producers will have more opportunities.
For instance, reports CBC.ca, cheese counters in Canada will see more variety. CETA bumps up the maximum import level of European cheese from 18,500 tonnes per year to nearly 30,000. This won’t happen suddenly, but will be phased in over a period of five years.
Last November, the federal government announced a $350 million package that will help dairy farmers and processors stay competitive in the new market, says CBC.ca.
As well, wine and spirits can now enter the country tariff free, meaning there may be more variety and lower prices of European liquor.
Bill C-30, the legislation to implement CETA in Canada, was introduced in the House of Commons on Oct. 31, 2016. Bill C-30 passed third reading in the House of Commons on Feb. 14, 2017, and was introduced in the Senate on February 14, 2017.