Nova Scotia’s fisheries industry is celebrating a newly inked trade agreement with the European Union, which could translate into millions of dollars in savings.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), in Brussels on Friday, creating one of the world's largest free trade zones.
The agreement covers nearly all sectors of economic activity and opens both markerts to a host of products like meat, wood and dairy.
One of the biggest winners could be Nova Scotia's seafood industry which already exports $140 million worth of products to the EU annually.
Once CETA comes into effect, which is expected in 2015, almost all EU tariffs on Canadian fish and seafood will be eliminated. That alone is expected to mean $25 million to $30 million in savings.
Industry players, like Micheal Surette of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association, are optimistic.
“This is a huge step towards eliminating tariffs with the EU. One hundred per cent of the seafood products are going to become tariff free,” he said.
Today, only 13.1 per cent is duty-free. But by 2022, all seafood will be 100 per cent duty-free.
Canada's fishing industry will be the only one of the G8 nations with that kind of access to Europe.
But some watchers are urging caution saying the trade deal could kill the seafood processing industry.
“The details aren't completely clear as to exactly what it will mean to the fisheries in Nova Scotia. We have heard certain things about European boats having access to Canadian waters,” said Angela Giles, Atlantic regional organizer for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative.
Surrette said he's not too worried since most of Nova Scotia’s exports are raw seafood products.