EU deal a 'historic win' for Canada, Harper says 0
BRUSSELS — Prime Minister Stephen Harper came away from a lightning-fast trip to Brussels grinning from ear to ear over completed negotiations on a free trade deal with the European Union.
"This agreement is vastly positive for the Canadian economy across the board," Harper said. "But it's not just a good deal, it is an excellent deal."
The deal would see Canada and the EU drop 98% of the tariffs charged on each other's exports on the first day of its implementation.
So shopping for duty-free European fashion, fragrances and food in Canada would no longer require a trip to airport shops.
The EU's 10% tariff on Canadian-made cars would gradually disappear over seven years, as would tariffs on Canadian auto parts.
Canada's 6.1% tariff on European cars would drop to zero over the same period.
Officials predict Canada's car exports to Europe will multiply more than ten times over to around 100,000 per year, about the same level as current European car imports to Canada.
Iconic Canadian maple syrup would also enter Europe tariff-free, as would wheat, durum, barley and canola oil.
As expected, duty-free access for Canadian pork, beef and bison would also increase, while Europe would also scrap its tariffs for shrimp, lobster, salmon and other Canadian seafood.
This upsets the Council of Canadians, an advocacy group concerned with the availability of clean water.
"Meat production is highly water intensive," the group said in a press release. "It takes over 15 million litres of water to produce one tonne of beef, for example."
The deal also increases the amount of European cheese allowed into Canada from 13,000 tonnes per year to 16,000 tonnes, which has the Dairy Farmers of Canada worried cheese producers will see sales melt.
Harper promises "compensation to fully address any adverse effects."
Canadian firms, meanwhile, would be able to bid on government contracts in Europe, just as European firms would be able to bid on government contracts in Canada.
It will take up to two years for the deal's text to be finalized and then approved by the European parliament and 28 EU member states.
In Canada, Parliament will have to review the deal while the provinces will also need to give it their formal nod.
Harper said he anticipates full ratification before the 2015 election.
"I think anyone who opposes it will lose and will make a big historic mistake politically for so doing," he said.