The European Commission has posted a public update on the status of the agricultural provisions in the proposed Canada – EU Trade Agreement. The EC says the goal is to conclude the agreement at a Ministerial meeting in Ottawa on February 7th, though reports suggest that may be overly optimistic. The state of the agricultural provisions is described as follows:
A major stumbling block in this end-game is the establishment of tariff quota volumes which would be acceptable to both sides. Canada is asking important volumes of beef, in particular fresh and chilled, as well as of pork, while offering very modest dairy volumes in exchange.
The Commission is well aware that the EU capacity to open its meat markets is limited, and any market opening needs to take into consideration the interaction between the different free-trade agreements, on-going and forthcoming ones.
Positive results can be expected in the wine and spirits sector, with disciplines on discriminatory practices applied by Canadian provinces. The EU has also made clear that a satisfactory result is necessary on geographical indications, i.e. enhanced protection of EU geographical indications in Canada.
Note that the geographical indications provisions – which target products such as feta cheese or parma ham – could include new rules on border measures. While the new information is helpful (and largely confirms prior media reports), it is worth asking why almost all official CETA information now comes from Europe as a cone of silence has descended on the Canadian delegation. For several years, Canadian officials provided regular updates with an opportunity for open questions. The last update occurred in October with no new updates despite near-continuous negotiations toward a final text and multiple updates and leaks from Europe.