Ag Policy Connection Ep. 2 — The Canada-EU trade deal, six years later

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with EU leaders at the CETA signing ceremony in Brussels in 2016. (photo source: Adam Scotti/PMO)

It’s been nearly six years since Canada ratified a major trade agreement with its second largest trading partner, the European Union. While the deal has been hailed as an overall success, it has yet to live up to its potential when it comes to agricultural exports from Canada.

At the time in 2017, it was projected the deal would drive additional ag exports from Canada of up to $1.5 billion per year, including $600 million in beef sales. However, beef exports were still only in the $20 million range, as of 2021. Non-tariff trade barriers have also limited exports of certain crops — durum wheat, for example — to Europe.

At the same time, concessions were made on dairy market access into Canada, with the Canadian government compensating dairy producers for allowing nearly 18 thousand tonnes of European cheeses into Canada.

On this episode of the Ag Policy Connection, we get into the nitty-gritty of the Canada-EU trade deal, formally known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), including the negotiation process going back to the late 2000s, the political factors at play as the deal moved ahead under both Conservative and Liberal governments, what both sides were hoping to get out of the agreement, and whether it’s lived up to those expectations. We also discuss the political environment today, and whether the momentum that resulted in Canada signing a trade deal such as CETA still exists.

Our guests for this episode are:

  • steve verheul

    Steve Verheul, Canada’s former chief trade negotiator

    Steve Verheul, who retired from the federal government in October 2022, after serving as Canada’s chief trade negotiator, including as the lead negotiator for the Canada-EU deal from 2009 to 2016. Prior to that, he worked on trade policy at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada from 1989 to 2009, including serving as Canada’s chief agriculture negotiator, working on NAFTA and World Trade Organization negotiations.

    John Masswohl

    John Masswohl, Canadian Cattle Association

  • John Masswohl, director of government relations and international trade with the Canadian Cattle Association (CCA) from 2004 to 2020. John still does some part-time work on trade files for the CCA.

The Ag Policy Connection is presented by RealAgriculture and the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute. Keep an eye (or an ear) out for more episodes on different ag policy changes that have shaped Canadian agriculture and farming.

Previous episode: Ag Policy Connection Ep. 1 — The origin (and future) of the Ag Policy Framework

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