- The Washington Times - Friday, October 18, 2013

The European Union agreed to a trade deal with Canada on Friday that will put pressure on the United States to complete its own transatlantic pact.

The EU, home to 28 member countries and a $17 trillion economy, has been negotiating with Canada since 2009.

After four years of seemingly stalled talks, the trade pact came together Friday, when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper traveled to Brussels to meet with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and hash out the final details.

“This agreement is a landmark achievement for the transatlantic market,” Mr. Barroso told reporters. “With political will and a good dose of hard work, there is a way to reach a result that benefits people on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The trade pact had been held up by the Europeans’ resistance to Canadian beef, and the Canadians’ resistance to European cheeses.

The deal will make it cheaper for both countries to trade with each other by reducing tariffs and streamlining regulations. In 2012, the value of trade of goods and services between Europe and Canada was $116 billion, according to the European Commission, but this pact could increase trade between the two parties by up to 25 percent.

“There are 35 million people in Canada and 500 million there. Not a bad trade,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the Associated Press.

Canada’s $1.8 trillion economy makes it only Europe’s 12th biggest trading partner, but the deal will help the EU by putting pressure on the U.S. to follow suit.

The EU and U.S. began negotiating their own trade deal earlier this year. An EU study estimates that a transatlantic pact would increase Europe’s GDP by nearly $165 billion and the United States’ GDP by $130 billion.

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