The European Union and Canada have finally signed a long-negotiated free trade agreement. The deal is believed to serve as an example for similar agreements, especially the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the United States. The two sides started to negotiate the agreement in October 2013 but the talks became soon problematic due to issues connected to investor protection, financial services as well as beef and cheese quota. The official statement of the Canada Trade Ministry stated that “today, Canada and the European Union are pleased to announce that officials have reached a complete text, allowing translation and final legal review to commence”. A Canadian official added that a few issues, that had not been handled yet, are of technical nature and did not require negotiators to meet again.
The agreement is to make Canada the world’s only major economy that will have preferential access to the two biggest economies – the EU and the United States. When the trade deal comes into force, about 98 percent of more than 9,000 European tariff lines will become duty-free for Canadian goods. Last week, Germany said that it had not decided yet whether to condone the draft due to its objections to legal protection of firms investing in the EU28. However, Canada claims that investor-related disputes were solved long ago. As to the issues regarding financial services, they were among the last to have been settled. The draft of the treaty is now to be translated and examined from a legal point of view before it is sent to all 28 EU member states and Canada’s ten provinces for their comments and final “yes”, whereby this process should end by min-2016. Both parties are now preparing for a summit that is to take place in Canada later in September 2014.