Alberta grain farmers breathe sigh of relief as Belgium reaches deal to back CETA

The free trade deal could add up to 'significant dollars' for wheat and durum producers, says the chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission.

Free trade deal ‘could add up to significant dollars’: Alberta Wheat Commission

Alberta grain producers can't wait for the ink to be signed on the Canada-EU free trade deal which would see tariffs eliminated on their agricultural and agri-food exports to the EU. (Grasslands Project)

Alberta grain producers breathed a collective sigh of relief on Thursday.

That's because the Belgian government appears to have smoothed things over with its Wallonia region, which has been blocking the adoption of an EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA) over the past few weeks.

"It was not good news that one little region in Belgium could scuttle a whole deal, so hearing that it was going through again was a big relief, let me tell you," said Kevin Auch, chair of Alberta Wheat Commission.

When CETA comes into effect, more than 90 per cent of tariffs will be eliminated on wheat, oat, barley, rye, durum and canola exports to Europe. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Currently, Canadian farmers are subject to a $114 to $190/tonne tariff on grain exports to the EU.

When CETA comes into effect, more than 90 per cent of tariffs will be eliminated on wheat, oat, barley, rye, durum and canola exports to Europe.

"We're moving about two million tons a year into there right now. So this could add up to significant dollars for Canadian farmers here, Auch told the Calgary Eyeopener.

He said the free trade deal would also give Canadian producers a "competitive advantage over those U.S. farmers."

Auch figures it won't be long before Alberta grain producers feel the effects of the CETA deal.

"As soon as the ink is signed, the tariffs disappear, so deals that are being negotiated at this time will take that into account and those savings will start getting passed on to farmers almost immediately."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener