On 21 September, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) entered into force provisionally. CETA is an ambitious agreement that will contribute to increased growth and employment in Sweden, writes Minister for EU Affairs and Trade Ann Linde.
CETA will make it easier for Swedish companies to export to, and compete on, the Canadian market. At the same time, Swedish companies and consumers will have better access to Canadian goods and services. The application of CETA comes at an important political juncture to reinforce the transatlantic link and free trade between two of the most progressive regions in the global economy.
CETA is the most ambitious and modern trade agreement concluded by both the EU and Canada. Once it is applied, 99 per cent of the tariffs on goods exported to Canada will be removed. In the case of agricultural goods, 92 per cent of the tariffs will be removed. Swedish companies will be able to bid on public procurement contracts at federal, provincial and municipal level in Canada. In addition, it will be easier for the EU and Canada to accept each other’s standards. This will enrich the Swedish export industry, and in particular our small and medium-sized enterprises that today do not have the same economic and legal resources as large companies to work around many of the current trade barriers. More than 2 500 Swedish companies currently export goods and services to Canada. A considerable share consists of precisely small companies with fewer than 50 employees. However, there are fewer small companies that export to Canada than in overall exports, in terms of per cent. They also account for a smaller percentage of export volume to Canada than in overall trade, which is, in part, because trade barriers affect these companies particularly hard. Protecting small companies is particularly important, as some of them may emerge as future export successes. In addition, the greatest job growth occurs in small and medium-sized companies. To give an example, for the entrepreneur who runs the small company Garden Greenhouse that imports greenhouses, CETA will lead to between SEK 5 000 and SEK 10 000 less in customs costs per delivery.
More and more critical voices are being raised around the world against free trade as part of globalisation. Regardless of whether we want it to or not, globalisation is proceeding at a rapid pace and without any fixed rules. This is exactly why it is important that we conclude progressive trade agreements that establish clear rules on how trade – and ultimately globalisation – can contribute to positive development. In short, the solution lies in the Swedish model: being part of the development while offering a strong social safety net, strict environmental rules and active labour market policy.
The Swedish Government is pushing for more open, free and fair trade. Sweden’s competitiveness, our companies and our level of employment depend on broad trade solutions and foreign markets, for both imports and exports of goods and services. For instance, existing exports to Canada make it possible for about 21 000 people to have a job to go to today. Furthermore, about 13 000 Swedes work at the more than 100 Canadian companies that have set up business in Sweden. However, an equally important aspect for us is that trade policy must stand up for workers’ rights, people’s health, our democratic values and our environment. Increased cooperation in the area of sustainability is a central component of CETA. With CETA, together we are setting up high standards on two major markets that other countries now must take into account. I am now looking forward to CETA beginning to apply, and to more people realising that the Swedish model of development and security is the way forward.
Ann Linde, Minister for EU Affairs and Trade
- At the G20 summit in Hamburg in July, the EU and Canada decided that the EU-Canada Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) would apply provisionally from 21 September 2017.
- Negotiations began in May 2009 and the agreement was signed at the EU-Canada summit in October 2016. The European Parliament approved the agreement in February this year.
- The Government will present a bill later this year to enable the Riksdag to consider the entire agreement, including the parts of CETA that require national approval, such as investor-state dispute settlement.