EU-Canada trade deal is ‘game chang­ing’ for busi­nesses, says Coveney

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS | NEWS - SI­MON CARSWELL Pub­lic Af­fairs Edi­tor

The new trade deal be­tween the EU and Canada is “game-chang­ing” for busi­nesses in both coun­tries, Min­is­ter for Trade Si­mon Coveney has said.

The EU-Canada agree­ment, known as the Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic and Trade Agree­ment, or Ceta – which came into force pro­vi­sion­ally in Septem­ber 2017 – has given Ir­ish com­pa­nies “pref­er­en­tial ac­cess” to a G7 econ­omy and in­creased ac­cess into the wider North Amer­ica mar­ket, Mr Coveney said.

The Tá­naiste was one of a num­ber of high-pro­file speak­ers at the Ire­land Canada Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence at the Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs in Iveagh House in Dublin.

He spoke about the im­por­tance of the free trade agree­ment com­ing into force at a time when there is a shift to eco­nomic na­tion­al­ism with the UK’s vote to leave the EU and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies to im­pose tar­iffs on Cana­dian and Euro­pean prod­ucts.

Mr Coveney said both coun­tries faced a com­mon chal­lenge as “highly glob­alised” economies fac­ing the in­creas­ing threat to the mul­ti­lat­eral rules­based in­ter­na­tional or­der.

“We are strong al­lies in re­sist­ing grow­ing trends to­wards pro­tec­tion­ism and iso­la­tion. What is most strik­ing is that in many ways that threat is com­ing from un­ex­pected quar­ters and our clos­est neigh­bours,” he said.

The Tá­naiste pro­vided fig­ures show­ing the ben­e­fits of Ceta; there had been an al­most 25 per cent in­crease in the value of Ir­ish ex­ports in the first eight months of this year, to­talling €899 mil­lion, com­pared with the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod last year be­fore the trade deal came into force.

Fig­ures from the Cana­dian em­bassy show Ire­land has ben­e­fited more from the deal: Ir­ish mer­chan­dise ex­ports to Canada were up al­most 34 per cent to al­most €2 bil­lion dur­ing the first year of Ceta (Oc­to­ber 2017 to Septem­ber 2018), while Cana­dian ex­ports to Ire­land rose 10 per cent to €417 mil­lion.

“That’s not noth­ing; that is very im­pres­sive,” said Canada’s EU am­bas­sador, Dan Costello.

Ben­e­fits

Mr Costello said Canada recog­nised the pop­ulist, anti-glob­al­i­sa­tion fer­vour against trade deals and the im­por­tance of ex­plain­ing the ben­e­fits of free trade, even to crit­ics, to counter the view that agree­ments such as Ceta were low­er­ing labour, health, safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards.

“We all have to be con­cerned about some of the sen­ti­ment out there about build­ing walls rather than bridges,” he said.

He de­clined to com­ment on whether the EU-Canada deal, which took eight years to ne­go­ti­ate, could be used as a tem­plate for a post-Brexit EU-UK deal.

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