Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Trade Agreements

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
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133. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when he expects Ireland to ratify CETA; the way in which Irish consumers, citizens and SMEs will benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43956/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, commonly known as CETA, is one of the EU’s new generation of progressive free trade agreements. CETA is designed to benefit EU and Canadian companies through improved trade flows in support of increased employment for our citizens. The elimination of tariffs, reduced trade barriers and simplified customs procedures that flow from CETA all make it easier and cheaper for Irish companies of all sizes to export to Canada and vice versa.

Diversifying trade is an important part of our Brexit response and it will be an important factor in our recovery post-pandemic. To this end, the best way to achieve export growth and market diversification is by improving market access and reducing costs of entering those markets which is what CETA delivers. Business links between Ireland and Canada are deep and extensive. Outside of Europe, the US and China, Canada is our largest indigenous export market. Indeed more than 400 Enterprise Ireland clients are doing business in the Canadian market employing over 6,000 people.

The main benefits for Ireland in this Agreement include the opening up of public procurement markets in the Canadian provinces giving Irish firms increased access to Canadian public sector purchasing. Ireland also gains unlimited tariff free-access for most of our important food exports. In addition, we have a low beef import quota from Canada. Irish firms will also benefit from the recognition of product standards and certification, saving on ‘double testing’ on both sides of the Atlantic. The benefits and opportunities to business in the Agreement will be especially valuable for SMEs, given that trade barriers tend to disproportionately burden smaller firms, which have fewer resources to overcome them than larger firms. Indeed, CETA contains an entire chapter exclusively dedicated to SMEs aimed at ensuring they can take full advantage of the improved market access.

In services and investment CETA is the most far-reaching agreement the EU has ever concluded. Almost half of the benefits anticipated from CETA are expected in the services sector. CETA makes it easier for EU individuals and companies to provide services to Canadian customers and vice versa. It covers services such as legal, accountancy, transport and telecoms. There is a huge opportunity for Ireland given its strengths in services where Ireland has been particularly successful in expanding its share of the world’s services market in recent years with services exports accounting for approximately 60% of all exports in 2019.

CETA will directly benefit Irish consumers. It will scrap or cut almost all the customs duties which EU importers have to pay on goods coming from Canada. As well as final products, the cost of parts, components and other inputs goods used to make final products also falls. This is the case already under provisional application of the Agreement. So, consumers can potentially enjoy lower prices and a wider choice of products and services, but only if the Canadian import satisfies all EU product rules including social and environmental standards, as well as people's health and safety and consumer rights.

CETA has provisionally applied across the EU since the 21st September 2017 meaning those areas where the EU has full competence are already in force. Since then, duties on 98% of products that the EU trades with Canada have been removed and the increased trade facilitation provisions which make the movement of Irish exports cheaper, faster, more predictable and efficient are in place. We can see the benefits of CETA already, exports of Irish goods and services to Canada totalled approximately €3.9 billion in 2019 a 35% increase compared to 2016, the last full year of trade, prior to the provisional application of CETA.

The combination of export-led growth and foreign direct investment has transformed Ireland’s economy over recent decades. As a small, open, economy, Ireland has benefitted immensely from our export orientated enterprises trading across the globe and therefore we fully support balanced international trade and the collection of EU Free Trade Agreements that seek to underpin this. This Agreement and the EU's other Trade Agreements are key instruments to assist the work of Enterprise Ireland in supporting Irish Enterprise in global markets. Government approval has been received for the moving of a motion in Dáil Éireann on the terms of CETA and it is my intention to bring forward this Motion as soon as possible.


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