Feds table European free trade deal

Producers of durum wheat and a number of other Canadian farmed foods are expected to gain from the implementation of a free trade agreement (FTA) with four European nations.

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day on Monday tabled legislation in Parliament to implement the FTA with Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, negotiating under the name of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

The FTA, Canada’s first such deal with any European country, calls for either the elimination or reduction of tariffs on such Canadian exports as durum wheat, frozen blueberries, frozen french fries, beer and Canadian crude canola oil, the government said in a release.

“Canada already exports more than $5 billion per year to EFTA countries, and that figure will grow under this agreement,” Day said.

Non-agricultural sectors including aluminum, cosmetics, prefabricated buildings, coldwater shrimp and apparel products will see tariffs eliminated altogether, the government noted.

Canada has been negotiating an EFTA with these four countries since 1998 and concluded its talks in June 2007. The deal was signed in Davos in January this year, pending ratification by affected governments, including Canada’s.

The deal provides duty-free access to Canadian and EFTA markets for most industrial goods, fish and other marine products. It also contains provisions on subsidies, anti-dumping, state trading enterprises and public procurement in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, the government said.

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