Canada’s Crop Sector Not Seeing Fair Share of CETA benefits: Surrey Board of Trade and Canadian Chamber of Commerce

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreements (CETA) may offer Canada preferential access to the European Union by removing almost all tariffs, but the trade deal doesn’t necessarily mean that Canadian exports aren’t being blocked from entering the market by other means.

A new report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, CETA Issue in Focus: Opening Opportunities for the Canadian Crop Sector, sheds light on how the EU still isn’t fully open to Canadian crop exports.

“The Surrey Board of Trade supports the recommendations of this position paper especially as 1/3 of Surrey’s land base is agricultural land representing a diverse and innovative agricultural and food-producing sector,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

“It is clear that Canadian crop exports to the EU are not reaching their full potential because of a number of outstanding protectionist practices. Canada’s trade numbers show an alarming disparity in CETA benefits between our crop sector and general merchandise trade,” said Mark Agnew, Senior Director, International Policy and author of the report.

CETA, implemented in 2017, has been a boon to many Canadian businesses, with Canadian exports of merchandise goods to the EU increasing by 6.5% in 2018 alone. However, businesses in Canada’s crop sector have experienced mixed results because of non-tariff barriers such as country of origin labelling, and food safety rules that are not based in science.

“Fortunately, the CETA agreement included the creation of institutional structures that force the Government of Canada and European Commission to the table to discuss irritants. The answer to the crop sector’s troubles lies in making better use of CETA’s regulatory cooperation committees to deliver ambitious outcomes that will resolve these issues. Our biggest challenge is whether our government and the European Commission will be ambitious enough to resolve these issues,” added Agnew.

The report outlines a number of ways the Government can help the country’s crop sector, including:

Elevating predictable agricultural trade issues to a standing agenda item for the CETA Joint Committee and Regulatory Cooperation Forum.

Requiring the CETA Joint Committee to direct the lead officials on the Dialogue on Biotech and Regulatory Cooperation Forum to increase the predictability and efficiency of the EU system that would reduce asynchrony between Canadian and EU approvals with the goal of approvals in both countries within 24 months of submission or less.
Establishing a Technical Working Group on Pesticides under CETA with a mandate to develop a pathway to enhance Pest Management Regulatory Agency and European Food Safety Authority collaboration and lay the groundwork for resolving MRL misalignment, including potentially by looking at increasing the frequency of joint reviews.
Using the Biotech Dialogue as a forum to exchange information on forward-looking issues pertaining to plant breeding innovations and responding to instances of low-level presences.

To download the full report, visit 

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Anita Huberman

CEO, Surrey Board of Trade