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Canadian beef producers have been assured they will have the ability to export close to 70,000 tonnes of beef to the European Union under a new free-trade deal being unveiled Friday in Brussels.
The quota is almost twice the 40,000-tonne number former EU ambassador Matthias Brinkmann said in May the Europeans were willing to concede to Canada in return for Canada opening up its market to more imports of cheese.
Sources close to the industry say Canadian pork producers will be given an even bigger quota, but did not give a specific number.
The Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance is hailing the deal, predicting it will boost exports of beef and pork by $1 billion once farmers gear up supply in hormone-free livestock.
But dairy farmers are upset with the loss of quota to mainly French cheese exporters, saying the doubling of imports to about 31,000 tonnes puts Canada’s fine cheese manufacturers in jeopardy.
The government says Canadians will get a first peek at the mammoth free trade deal early Friday morning, including most of the details on quotas. Officials are calling the deal an agreement in principle because a text still needs to be drafted.
Reporters in Ottawa will receive an early-morning briefing on the deal before Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso take part in a signing ceremony in Brussels.
Government officials say the deal with the 28-member EU, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, is the most ambitious Canada has ever attempted, encompassing every sector of the economy from automobiles to financial services, intellectual property to government procurement.
The deal is expected to call for the phasing out of tariffs on European automobiles, while giving Canadian domestic manufacturers the potential to increase sales into the continent to 100,000 units, from the current 13,000.
Canada has also agreed to extend the life of patented brand-name pharmaceuticals up to two years, which critics say potentially could drive up costs for provincial drug plans and consumers by about $1 billion.
News of the deal has met with wide support among business groups in Canada, but also drawn criticism from unions, civil society groups, and dairy farmers.
- CETA Free Trade Deal: Harper Heading To Europe To Conclude Pact (olduvaiblog.wordpress.com)
- Harper set to sign free-trade deal with European Union (globalnews.ca)
- Canada PM arrives in Brussels to conclude EU deal (boston.com)
- EU, Canada Finalizing Landmark Free Trade Deal (theepochtimes.com)
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper is heading to Europe to conclude a free trade deal with the European Union on Friday.
Negotiations over the terms of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) have gone on for years. The trade deal is expected to generate some $28 billion in new trade annually.
Sources say the federal government hopes to announce it has concluded the agreement in principle Friday when Harper is in Brussels to meet with President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.
The federal government received the tacit agreement of all provinces on Wednesday, Huffington Post Canada has learned.
Quebec is concerned about its dairy farmers and the impact of the deal on Canada’s supply management system but they will be compensated, according to a source with knowledge of the deal.
The federal government is offering compensation for producers if there are any losses and plans a long phase-in for dairy access, HuffPost has learned.
The Conservatives also announced Wednesday that they are lifting travel visas for Czech citizens.
The change is designed to get the Czech Republic onside with the trade deal. It will likely take approximately two years to get the legal text finalized and the deal ratified. The European Parliament must study and vote on the deal. Some European Union member states may also get to have their say if the contents of CETA touch on areas they haven’t relinquished authority to the European Union.
The National Post was first to reportWednesday that Canada had broken through a major roadblock by agreeing to allow a doubling of cheese imports from the European Union.
Wally Smith, the president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, told Reuters the content of the deal was “unacceptable.”
“This deal would displace our local products with subsidized cheeses from EU and risk our small businesses being shut down or put out of business.”
The federal government said the doubled European imports — which will amount to about 30,000 tonnes annually — would still only account for about four per cent of domestic cheese consumption.
“In these discussions, the system of supply management has been completely protected and Canada has gained unfettered access for Canadian dairy products into the largest, most lucrative market in the world,” Trade Minister Ed Fast’s office told the National Post.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said he was concerned the deal could mean a loss of jobs in Canada.
The provinces have been deeply involved in negotiations since many of the items discussed, intellectual property, trade, sub-national contracting, touch on areas of provincial jurisdictions. However, there is no legal requirement for them to hold legislative votes. Only the federal government needs to sign the deal.
The Conservative government plans a massive communications plan to sell the deal to Canadians. The government said CETA could create 80,000 jobs in Canada in Wednesday’s speech from the throne.
- Canada PM to head to Brussels to conclude EU deal (miamiherald.com)
- Canada PM says close to reaching free trade deal with EU (eubusiness.com)
- Canada PM heads to Brussels to conclude EU deal (thehindu.com)