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Today, the Canadian Chamber joins business groups from across the country to form the Coalition for Canada-Europe Trade. Launched on the occasion of theCanada-EU Summit, the Coalition will push for swift implementation of the recently concluded Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and seek to ensure that the agreement is leveraged to its full extent.

You’ve heard this before, but it’s worth restating: CETA is a big deal for Canadian business.

Once in effect, it will eliminate tariffs on the vast majority of our trade with Europe, one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated economies. It will open new opportunities in government procurement and the services sector, facilitate regulatory alignment, streamline customs, and improve the business climate for innovation and investment.

CETA will make Canada’s economy more competitive, bringing new investments and research partnerships, high-quality jobs and lower prices and more choice for consumers.

But the benefits won’t flow automatically.

In many ways, the hard work has just begun.

To start, we need to encourage the federal and provincial governments, EU member states and EU Parliament to implement the agreement as soon as possible. Ratification can take up to two years, so there’s no time to waste.

Meanwhile, businesses in both countries, especially SMEs, need to be more aware of how they can use CETA to their advantage. A free trade agreement opens the door. Companies are the ones that have to walk through it.

We should also look for ways to improve on the policy framework laid down by CETA. Active business participation, for example, will be essential to drive progress in the regulatory cooperation committees that will be established.

Going forward, the Canadian Chamber is committed to working with members of the Coalition and partners across Europe and North America to realize the full potential of this ground-breaking agreement.

Next Friday, the Canadian Services Coalition will be hosting a delegation from the European Services Forum. The group will meet with companies and officials in Ottawa to discuss the implications of CETA for bilateral trade in services.

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