Six Points About CETA

What is it? CETA is the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA). It is not a free trade agreement – it is constitutional-style document that affects matters only loosely related to trade, such as investor rights, intellectual property rights, buy-local food policies and domestic regulations. Negotiations were launched in May, 2009. On September 26, 2014 the final text was made available to the public – after announcing that both sides had signed off on the text - leaving no opportunity for public debate on an agreement that will undermine the ability of governments to act in the public interest.
 
It protects corporate profits while undermining public interests through ISDS. In Chapter 10 of CETA, Canada and the EU commit to strong market access rules, prohibition of performance requirements, non-discriminatory treatment of foreign investors and high standards of investor protection. Through this chapter and the accompanying investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS), CETA grants foreign investors the special privilege to sue host governments and to claim compensation for all kinds of actions states undertake on behalf of their citizens. These cases will not be heard by domestic court systems but rather in front of appointed arbitration tribunals. ISDS is increasingly being used globally by multinational corporations to challenge environmental protection measures, public health regulations and other legislation enacted by governments in the public interest.
 
By reaching down to the municipal level, CETA threatens buy local policies and programs.
Under CETA the EU has secured "unconditional access" to public procurement at all levels of government in Canada. This will substantially restrict most provincial and municipal government bodies, including schools, hospitals and universities, from using public spending to support local farmers, create good local jobs or address climate change. For all goods and services contracts, including food service contracts, above about $330,000 municipal governments and government entities will be prohibited from adopting local content requirements or applying any other "offsets", which are defined as "any condition or undertaking that encourages local development". Governments are prohibited from dividing up proposed contracts into separate procurements.
 
It expands intellectual property rights enforcement tools. Both gene patents, used to protect ownership of genetically modified seeds, and plant breeder's rights are forms of intellectual property. Chapter 22 of CETA gives intellectual property rights holders, such as multinational seed companies, the ability to use the courts to seek injunctions against suspected infringers, including farmers suspected of selling (and if Bill C-18 is passed, storing) farm-saved seed. Judges will also be granted the authority to order the precautionary seizure of assets, equipment and inventory of suspected infringers– before the case is ever heard in court.
 
It will not open Europe's doors to genetically modified crops from Canada. The regulatory cooperation provisions provide new channels for industry to apply pressure to weaken EU food safety standards.In the bilateral cooperation chapter the EU has only agreed to discuss biotechnology issues, but not to lift any restrictions on GMOs.
 
There will be more cheese coming to Canada, but not significantly more beef or pork going to the EU. Without CETA, the EU gives Canada tariff-free access for over 23,000 tonnes of hormone-free beef-- quota that we do not fill now. The EU imports most of its beef from South America. In 1991, Brazil banned the use of growth hormones in beef to maintain the European market. The EU's current exports of pork exceed Canada's total pork production.The EU prohibits pork produced with ractopamine, a growth promotor used by the Canadian pork industry. With a four percent increase in cheese coming from the EU, Canadian dairy farmers will lose market for the equivalent of all the milk produced in Nova Scotia. European dairy farmers obtain 40% of their income from state subsidies while Canadian dairy farmers receive their income from the marketplace under cost of production formula determined by milk marketing boards.
 
For more information go to our CETA page or read Making Sense of CETA: An Analysis of the Final Text of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, September 2014.The agriculture analysis was provided by the NFU.