Saturday, February 17, 2018

Calculated Thought: Canada-Europe trade deal moving forward

March 1, 2017 by

The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), a free-trade deal between Canada and Europe virtually eliminating tariffs on most goods crossing the Atlantic, has passed another hurdle. The European Union’s parliament approved the deal on February 15, leaving national and regional parliaments in Europe to vote.

Once the prescribed changes to federal and provincial regulations are in place, the deal will be provisionally implemented and could take effect as early as April.

Trade agreements are complex. They’ve been a hot topic lately: he-who-shall-not-be-named has been screaming “NAFTA is a bad deal!” from the rooftops. I’m going to leave the broad-reaching merits, or lack thereof, concerning free-trade agreements to the economists in the Ewing building and touch on a couple notes that Camosun students might find interesting about CETA.

Calculated Thought is a column dealing with student finances that is featured in every issue of Nexus.

There will be increased labour mobility. The agreement will provide the framework for Europe to recognize the qualifications of regulated professions. For Camosun students who become professionals—speculation is that this may include those in the engineering and accounting professions—this means landing that dream job in some hip European city may become easier. This is a tricky part of the deal. Canada’s professional regulatory bodies are generally provincial, and negotiating Mutual Recognition Agreements will be up to those bodies to tackle.

European wine and cheese will get cheaper. Are you a student with champagne taste on a beer budget? Well, that bottle of Veuve Clicquot and a nice wheel of camembert should be a tad more affordable.

Some worry there will be negative affects for Canada. European farmers enjoy larger subsidies than those in Canada, possibly creating an uneven playing field in agricultural trade. Drug prices could increase as patents are extended for name-brand drugs under the deal, lengthening the time for their cheaper, generic counterparts to hit the market.

CETA is a landmark agreement for Canada, and students should take note. These are important, widely impactful changes to our country. Whether this a good deal for average Canadians is debatable. However, I think it’s at least a win for connectedness at a time marred by an unsettling new breed of protectionism.

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