CETA: Canada’s Free Trade Agreement with the European Union

Prime Minister Trudeau inked Canada’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA)—known as CETA—with the European Union in Brussels in October 2016

Businessmen Shaking Hands with Canadian Flag

Prime Minister Trudeau inked Canada’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union in Brussels on October 30, 2016. It is often referred to as CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement).

CETA was several years in the making, as negotiations were launched in May 2009. The next steps now are approval by the European Parliament in Strasbourg, followed by ratification by the 28 national parliaments of EU member countries and some regional parliaments as well.

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Business with Belgium, April 29, 2016

Christian Frayssignes, Vice-President, Belgian Canadian Business Chamber set the overall tone for the Business with Belgium seminar by reminding attendees that as a small, stable and geographically strategic marketplace, Belgium is an ideal entry point for Canadian exporters to expand into the European Union.

In her brief comments on how the EU functions, Nadiya Nychay, Partner, Dentons Europe LLP, explained that the European Union consists of 28 member countries, 19 of which share a common currency, the Euro and is home to 500 million consumers. Unlike NAFTA, the EU is a customs union with an integrated system of trade and business regulations. However, individual member states still have their own legislation regarding areas over which they hold domestic competency.

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Regarding the topic of choosing a strategy for expanding into Europe, Xavier Van Overmeire, Regional Head of the International Trade Group, Dentons Canada LLP suggested three basic approaches  — direct representation through distributors or agents, licensing technology or formal partnerships. Each brings with it various legal challenges, which can be further complicated by the European civil law regime, similar to the one used in Quebec. It is different from the English common-law tradition found in the rest of Canada. Continue reading