A summary of the tentative free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, which has been praised by exporters but drawn criticism from some dairy farmers, was tabled in the House of Commons in Ottawa today.

But the summary came out as a report suggested that European exporters will save three times as much in annual duty payments as Canadian exporters. 

Hailing it as the biggest deal ever concluded by Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood in the House and tabled the 30-page "technical summary of final negotiated outcomes" relating to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). 

"It's a historic win," Harper said. 


Harper signed the tentative deal in Brussels on Oct. 18 alongside European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso shake hands after signing an agreement in principle on trade last October in Brussels. (Adrian Wyld/ Canadian Press)

The agreement would provide Canada with preferential market access to the  28-member European Union, and its more than 500 million consumers and  $17 trillion in annual economic activity.

The agreement still needs to be fine-tuned and full ratification most likely won't happen for another two years. 

But the agreement is expected to be a boon for Canadian exporters by providing full access to EU markets by removing 98 per cent of EU tariffs on a wide range of Canadian products, including agricultural, seafood, metals and mineral products. 

The deal would also allow Canadian automakers to export more cars and Canadian farmers to export more beef, pork and bison.

‚ÄčOnce in place, Canadian consumers could also see cheaper prices on items that include food, wines and high-end European cars.

Although a number of export industries have given the deal high praise, some dairy farmers and cheese producers have expressed concerns. 

The deal would allow the EU to sell Canada 29,000 tonnes of cheese, an increase from the current 13,000 tonnes. Some farmers fear those provisions could threaten jobs and industries in Canada.

Highlights of the summary include:

  • Full elimination of duties on all non-agricultural goods.
  • 99 per cent of industrial goods will be duty free immediately (100 per cent after seven years), including forestry, chemical and plastic products that will be duty free on Day 1.
  • 95.5 per cent of fish and seafood products will be duty free immediately (100 per cent after seven years), including live lobster, frozen lobster and frozen shrimp.
  • 94 per cent of agricultural tariffs will be eliminated, with tariffs immediately eliminated from items including  maple syrup,  fresh and frozen fruits, cherries, fresh apples and cat and dog food.
  • Canadian beef producers will be able to sell  50,000 tonnes of beef; pork producers will be able to sell 81,000 tonnes of pork
  • There will also be duty free, quota free access to the EU dairy market.

But The Canadian Press reported that according to an internal EU analysis of the agreement, European Union exporters will save more than $670 million annually in duty payments compared with about $225 million annually for Canada's.

Part of the reason for the gap on tariff elimination is that Europe currently exports more to Canada than the reverse, meaning EU exporters currently pay more duties

International Trade Minister Ed Fast said the federal government will more than make up for
the lost $670 million in tariff revenues.

"We expect that the gains on the economy will more than outstrip the tariff losses. At the end of the day, this will be a net fiscal benefit to Canada," he said.

With files from The Canadian Press