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Canada; European Union: Trade Agreement

(Oct. 22, 2013) On October 18, 2013, after lengthy negotiations between the European Union Commissioner on Trade, Karel De Gutch, and the Canadian Trade Minister, Ed Fast, the EU and Canada reached a political accord on signing a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). (Press Release, European Commission, EU and Canada Conclude Negotiations on a Trade Deal (Oct. 18, 2013).)

Among CETA’s key objectives are to liberalize trade in services, especially in telecommunications, energy, transport, and the financial sector, and to reduce tariffs. In addition, the Canadian government, at all its levels, guarantees the opening up of procurement markets to European suppliers. The two partners also reaffirmed their commitment to sustainable development in trade and to respecting the environment and each other’s environmental legislation. The EU agreed to protect intellectual property rights in Canada, and Canada guaranteed to respect the names of significant EU agricultural products. (Id.)

This bilateral requirement obliges EU companies investing in Canada to protect Canadian patents, trademarks, copyrights, and geographical indications, and Canadian companies must respect EU artistic material under copyright as well as products originating in a particular region, that is, those with geographical indications. For instance, until now, makers of genuine “Prosciutto di Parma” have been prevented from exporting their product to Canada under that original name due to the use of the trademark “Parma” in Canada. (European Commission, The EU’s Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Its Intellectual Property Rights Provisions, EUROPA (Oct. 18, 2013).)

Upon entering into force, the agreement is expected to increase bilateral trade in goods and services by 23% or €26 billion (about US$35.56 billion) and will stimulate growth and employment on both sides. The overall benefits of the agreement are expected to raise the level of the EU’s annual GDP by approximately €12 billion a year (about US$16 billion). (EU and Canada Conclude Negotiations on a Trade Deal, supra.)

The negotiation and conclusion of trade agreements falls within the exclusive competence of the EU for the Member States. The European Commission is the chief negotiator of international trade agreements on behalf of the EU and its Member States. When the technical details of negotiations become final, the Commission notifies the European Parliament and the Council. The text of the agreement is also forwarded to the Member States. (For more details, see European Commission, DG Trade Agreements Step by Step, EUROPA (Sept. 2013).)