The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) cheers thw declaration signed in Ottawa that Canada and the European Union (EU) have concluded the negotiations for a free trade agreement. Today’s declaration follows the historic agreement-in-principle for a Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) reached last October and means the complete text will commence the ratification process in both Europe and Canada.

CCA President Dave Solverson called the CETA an outstanding agreement for Canadian beef producers and thanked Prime Minister Stephen Harper, International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz for their demonstrated commitment to move the agreement forward. Once ratified and implemented, the CETA will provide new duty-free access for 64,950 tonnes of Canadian beef valued at nearly $600 million annually, with the lion’s share of the quota reserved for Canada alone.

“The CCA would like to see the same unanimous endorsement from all the provinces and territories that the agreement-in-principle received last fall,” Solverson said. “The CCA urges the Federal and Provincial governments to move quickly to implement the agreement as soon as possible.”

The agreement has been hailed as a game changer for Canada’s beef industry, as the removal of longstanding barriers in this agreement, such as high tariffs, enables Canadian beef producers to benefit from the high value that the European beef market represents.

The CCA has been working on the CETA from the outset of negotiations in 2009, engaging with the Canadian negotiating team and conducting advocacy with key EU and Member State officials and industry representatives. CCA representatives attended numerous negotiating rounds in Brussels and Ottawa and met regularly with the Canadian negotiators of CETA to ensure they clearly understood the needs of Canada’s beef sector.

For the Canadian beef sector, CETA will produce duty free access for 64,950 tonnes. Of this, 50,000 tonnes, consisting of 35,000 tonnes of fresh/chilled beef and 15,000 tonnes of frozen beef, are reserved for Canada. In addition, Canada will see the 20 per cent duty on the existing 14,950 tonne Hilton quota shared with the U.S. reduced immediately to zero. Canada will also continue to have access to the existing shared duty free quota for high quality grain-fed beef. Combined with the new access, there is a potential to reach more than 100,000 tonnes per year of duty free access for Canadian beef. Additionally, all live cattle, genetics and most beef offals and processed beef products will benefit from immediate unlimited duty free access.