Why support for CETA still matters

Until all national parliaments ratify CETA, it is crucial that we continue generating support for this landmark deal, says Artis Pabriks.

Artis Pabriks | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Artis Pabriks

04 Apr 2017

The European Parliament gave CETA its seal of approval on 15 February, but now the ratification process must make the long journey through member state parliaments before the deal can fully enter into force.

Until each and every parliament on the list has approved this agreement, support for CETA still matters. Looking to the future, and putting things into a wider perspective, the benefits of CETA fall into three major categories.

First, globalisation and the role the EU chooses to play in global trade; second, geopolitical importance; third, the actual economic benefits that CETA is set to deliver.

Globalisation, as with the industrial revolution, is an irrepressible force. When global world politics brings us to a crossroads we have to make a decision whether to shape globalisation and international trade, or be shaped by it.

When the European Parliament approved CETA - the most advanced and modern trade agreement that has ever been proposed for ratification in the EU or Canada - we gave a signal to the world that the EU is a key player in global trade. It is ready to set the standards and write the rulebook for open and fair international trade that respects social and environmental values.

The EU and Canada are two of the largest economies in the world. They have always been vital economic, strategic and military partners.

Maintaining and strengthening our longstanding friendship with Canada - a nation that shares our values and our standards - is important, particularly in these uncertain political times on both sides of the Atlantic.

Besides its geopolitical relevance, CETA is also essential for the common prosperity of our Union and its citizens, as well as those of Canadian citizens.

At a time when the EU is experiencing high unemployment rates, the agreement can provide a much-needed economic stimulus and create new jobs. The core formula is simple: more trade means more money, more growth and better salaries.

For exporters and businesses, CETA will pave the way to much better and simplified trade between the two allies. CETA will remove almost 99 per cent of import tariffs, while some special safeguards will be maintained for the most sensitive sectors on both sides, including quotas for beef and pork. Bearing in mind the sensitivity of the dairy and poultry sectors, those products will be exempt from the agreement.

Approximately 140 geographical indications of specific high-quality European products will be protected under the treaty, which is a major achievement for us and our producers. Also, there is no reason for speculation that CETA could lower the high EU food standards, because both sides will have to fully comply and respect the existing rules and norms of each side.

Non-tariff barriers will be eliminated and the administrative process will be simplified, hugely benefitting the SMEs which make up around 99 per cent of all business in the EU.

These companies will able to trade with Canada far more easily. Under CETA, Canada for the first time guarantees full access to public procurement, not only at federal but also at municipal level.

Strengthened intellectual property rights are another gain that will improve the existing trade relationship for companies and inventors.

All of these are huge benefits that cannot be overlooked and that will greatly facilitate the exports of our companies and businesses.

When fully in force, once Canada and the national parliaments across the EU have given their final approval, CETA is expected to increase bilateral trade of goods and services by 22.9 per cent.

It is estimated that EU-Canada trade will result in €11.6bn yearly GDP gains for the EU. Every €1bn in exports from the EU sustains approximately 14,000 jobs.

This is why CETA is much more than just another trade agreement. In ratifying it, member states show how much importance they attach to the transatlantic relationship orhow protectionist or egoistic they are.

I am proud that my country Latvia was the first to ratify CETA, leading the other 27 member states by example and strengthening ties between Canada and Latvia.

With the positive vote, the Latvian Parliament showed that they stand for open and fair trade in a globalised world, for high standards in international trade and for growth that will benefit Latvian citizens. If other national parliaments wish the best for their citizens instead of boosting their political popularity by joining the populist camp, they will follow the road led by Latvia.

In times of growing protectionism, I stand for the future, for open and fair trade, for modern trade agreements. If we want our European Union to flourish, we must ratify CETA - a deal which sets a golden standard for future trade agreements across the world.

Read the most recent articles written by Artis Pabriks - Canada trade deal essential to EU prosperity

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