After four years of difficult negotiations, Canada and the European Union have signed a free trade agreement that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called “the biggest trade deal our country has ever made.” European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso hailed it as a “new opportunity to increase market access… gain a strong foothold in the North American market, and so provide a catalyst for growth and create jobs in Europe.”
What most analysts are saying is that the agreement could serve as a template for the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), still in rough negotiations.
This new agreement is huge on its own, however, bigger than even the 1994 North American Free trade Agreement (NAFTA). The trade in goods between Canada and the EU last year was valued at about $84 billion, and while Canada is the 28-nation voting bloc’s 11th largest trading partner, the EU was Canada’s second most important market after the US. This deal removes about 99% of the tariffs between the two countries.
CBC News Canada offers a great rundown of the deal’s effect on Canadians.
Negotiations began in 2009, and have since seen roadblocks very similar to those of the TTIP, such as the issues of agriculture, financial services, and generic medicines. Full ratification is still about 2 years away.
Find out more about the agreement’s effect on bilateral trade and the TTIP here.