Canada, EU to provisionally apply CETA in September

Canada and the European Union have finally agreed on a date for provisional application of the oft-delayed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement - Sept. 21.

New date set after parties not ready for provisional application of trade agreement on Canada Day

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, chats with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker before the start of the G20 summit Saturday, July 8 in Hamburg. The two agreed on Sept. 21 as the provisional application date for CETA. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Canada and the European Union have finally agreed on a date for provisional application of the oft-delayed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

The provisional application of the massive deal will come into effect on Sept. 21, according to a joint-statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, issued at the G20 summit meeting in Hamburg Saturday morning.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Germany, Trudeau said 98 per cent of the deal will come into effect on the Sept. 21 date.

"It's good news for the globe to look at examples of progressive trade deals that take into account a government's responsibility to be able to protect its citizens, protect labour standards, protect the environment, while at the same time sharing and promoting the values that we share, Canada and Europe," he said.

"I certainly am looking forward to seeing the impact that CETA will have on future trade deals between other countries where they realize that we have raised the bar in demonstrating that trade can and must work for everyone. And that is something very much reflected in the G20 communiqué."

July 1 deadlines passed 

The joint statement from the two leaders says the agreement "will enter definitively into force once the parliaments in all member states of the EU ratify the text according to their respective domestic constitutional requirements."

Four EU countries have held ratification votes and approved CETA to date: Latvia, Denmark, Spain and Croatia.

Canadian cheeses will soon face new European competition as Canada's trade deal with the EU takes hold. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

"This is a good outcome," said Jason Langrish, the executive director of the Canada Europe Roundtable for Business. "A firm timeline with path forward."

"CETA is a survivor. It's the first of the next generation of trade agreements," he wrote CBC News. "It has experienced delays, but it continues to move forward. Canada and Europe are growing closer."

Most of CETA was supposed to be provisionally applied by July 1, but it snagged on a dairy dispute.

The European Parliament ratified CETA in February. Canada's cabinet has also ratified the agreement, and the bill to implement it by changing the necessary federal laws and regulations received royal assent in May.

Approval of the deal comes at a time when populist parties in Europe and U.S. President Donald Trump have been looking increasingly inward and away from globalization.

The deal will drop barriers between the EU's economy of half a billion people and Canada's of 35 million. Trade between the two sides amounts to more than 60 billion euros ($88 billion Cdn) a year, and the EU expects CETA to boost this by 20 per cent by removing almost all tariffs.

Trudeau defends Canada's agriculture protections

With U.S. President Donald Trump pushing his "American First" and anti-NAFTA agenda, trade was one of the heated topics of conversation heading into the summit.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, speaks to United States President Donald Trump before the third working session at the G20 summit Saturday. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

European Union officials who briefed reporters on a draft final statement of the communiqué said G20 leaders agreed to keep their markets open to foreign trade. But the group's draft statement also says trade needs to be mutually beneficial and countries can take steps to protect their markets.

The language in the communiqué around trade keeps the traditional G20 condemnation of protectionism, or keeping out foreign competitors with unfair import taxes or regulations. But countries also agreed to fight "all unfair trade practices" and recognize "legitimate trade defence instruments."

Trudeau praised the virtues of free trade deals, but didn't back off his defence of Canada's dairy supply management system.

"We have signed many different free trade deals over the past decades while recognizing that we have protections in place for certain vulnerable industries, particularly in agriculture. And let's not pretend that even with all the free trade deals around there is a global free market when it comes to agriculture.

"But what we have seen is us being able to move forward on historic free trade deals that are going to be good for our producers, good for consumers and good for international partners," he said.

With files from The Associated Press