The recent October 30th reception held in honour of the visit of Jean-Claude Marcourt, Vice- Minister-President and Minister of Economics and Foreign Affairs of Wallonia included presentations on a timely topic, CETA – New Opportunities for Canada and Belgium.
In the opening talk, Xavier Van Overmeire, Regional Head of International Trade at Dentons Canada LLP, the event’s host, explained that CETA is a second-generation trade agreement focused on removing barriers to investment, services and labour while placing more emphasis on services, on the mutual recognition and the certification of product standards as well as professional qualifications.
For the first time, public-sector procurement is on the table, which will open the market for national and sub-national, i.e. provincial or state, governments to source products and services from overseas suppliers.
First-generation agreements such as NAFTA linking Canada, the US and Mexico were based more on reducing and eliminating tariffs on goods and products.
Under CETA, Canada will enjoy preferred access to that vast 28-country European Union market and its more than 600 million consumers. The treaty was signed in October 2013. Currently, teams of trade experts, lawyers, accountants and others are conducting a thorough “legal scrub” to ensure that the terms comply with relevant EU rules and regulations.
Robert Sacco, GTA Trade & Customs Leader for KPMG offered a more detailed look at CETA by stressing that the final agreement, among other things, will increase the transparency of the rules regarding automotive standards that in the past have served as non-tariff barriers to keep imported products out of local markets. Country-of-origin rules are crucial for any Canadian-assembled cars to enter European markets. Agreement on the terms may make it more attractive for European car manufacturers to set up manufacturing plants in Canada.
In the other direction, Canadian agricultural and food products will face higher EU standards regarding de minimis rules for GMO additives. Another area of EU concern is the question of geographic indicators, e.g., Parma ham, Champagne or Mozzarella di Bufala. Canada has fewer such designations.
In addition, any trade agreement needs a fair and transparent dispute resolution mechanism. Apparently, the US does not like the one used for NAFTA. Germany has questions over the approach proposed in CETA.
André van der Heyden, Vice-President & COO of the Belgian Canadian Business Chamber, outlined how Belgium’s central location can serve as the most efficient transportation hub for Canadian exporters seeking to penetrate the vast EU marketplace. Belgium is within a four-hour drive of 500 million customers. Finally, he explained the deep network of business contacts between our two countries including our own EDC and other organizations in Belgium’s three major economic regions, Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia.
A delightful reception followed the presentations.
BCBC would like to thank Ken Mark (firstname.lastname@example.org), Freelance Writer, for the following report; and Luca Viorel – YourAdOnline our professional photography services.
Click below to access the power point presentations: