In a letter sent to Justin Trudeau, six former provincial premiers, including Jean Charest, denounced the “lack of commitment shown” by the European Union with regard to its openness to Canadian agricultural products, commitments formulated in the framework of the free trade agreement signed three years ago.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), described by governments on both sides of the Atlantic as a “progressive” agreement, aims to ease barriers to trade in large quantities of goods.
However, according to the prime ministers who signed the letter, the agreement signed in 2016 and adopted in 2017 is slow to bear fruit on this side of the ocean. The text of the letter illustrates an accusing spirit.
“The EU is known for its adherence to the principle of free trade between countries. By neglecting to respect its commitments, it is jeopardizing its reputation. The EU must assume its leadership and resolve these issues, in a context where everyone must put their shoulders to the wheel so that the world economy can recover from this crisis, ”they wrote.
The letter, titled “Supporting the Canadian Agri-Food Sector in Global Markets for Economic Recovery,” is co-signed by Jean Charest, Gary Doer, former Manitoba PM, Ed Stelmach, former Alberta PM Brad Wall, former PM from Saskatchewan, and Kathleen Wynne, former PM from Ontario.
According to them, Canadian exports to Europe could reach a value of $ 2 billion annually. But some European initiatives, such as the labeling of origin of pasta in Italy, represent an obstacle to exports.
What is more, free trade agreements are facing serious resistance in certain European countries, which could represent a brake for Canada.
“If the EU does not live up to the terms of the deal it negotiated, its authority and credibility as a trading partner will be compromised. This is also true for Canada, ”warned the former prime ministers.
They urged Justin Trudeau to put pressure on the European Union in order to change the file.
“Over the next few weeks, we invite you to raise these issues with your counterparts and make them one of your top foreign policy priorities,” they said.