The Government of Saskatchewan is optimistic that a new trade deal between Canada and the European Union will lead to greater export opportunities for Saskatchewan farmers.

The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into effect last Thursday, Sept. 21, bringing in new opportunities for Saskatchewan farmers to export their produce. CETA makes it easier to export and import goods between Canada and the EU by eliminating 98 per cent of tariffs, creating more trade opportunities between the two.

Jodi Banks, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, said, “Anytime that we can take part in a trade deal where we can have better access to a significant market, that’s a good day for Saskatchewan.” She added that agriculture in particular will see strong benefits.

There will also be more imports coming into Saskatchewan from the EU because of CETA. Jason Childs, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Regina, is optimistic about the increased competition that imports from the EU might bring to Saskatchewan. “That’s one of the benefits of competition, is you have to get better at what you do,” he said. “If you’re not pushed you don’t get better and if we’re going to stay in this game we’ve got to get better.”

Some concerns are being raised, however. Ryder Lee, CEO of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, is concerned about the safety standard differences between Canada and the EU and its effects on the Saskatchewan beef industry. “Some of the things that [the major meat plants] do from a safety standpoint aren’t approved in the EU…and until those are approved, the deal doesn’t have a lot of impact on our industry,” he said. “It’s exciting. There’s so much potential, but there’s still work to be done on the technical side.”

Jodi Banks responded to the concerns about safety standard differences and GMO labelling. “We’re going to work really hard…with our European Union partners to ensure that we’re making science-based decisions and we need to be always mindful of what the consumers want and the type of information that they want.”

 

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