A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
A look at the news

EU/Canada free trade agreement: Prologue to the TTIP

May 9, 2016

While the headlines from European newspapers and civil as well as political forces have centered on the TTIP negotiations, the Canadian cousin of the transatlantic agreement––the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada––seems to generate less commotion. Yet, some experts and professional organizations feel that the challenges and the difficulties are identical1.

Unlike the TTIP, the CETA final text has already been signed on September 26, 2014. Officially, the European leaders must validate the CETA next June, and the final agreement might not be implemented before this coming fall. We should point out that, as with the TTIP, the agreement must be ratified by the European Parliament and by each of the 28 national parliaments of the EU before it can be enforced.

The opposition to the CETA has grown together with that against the TTIP, and has mobilized both the civil society and the parliaments. On April 27, 2016, the Walloon Parliament refused to ratify the CETA through the adoption of an unprecedented resolution asking the regional government not to grant the federal government with the power to endorse the agreement. On the following day, the Dutch Parliament asked the government to refrain from giving its opinion on the temporary implementation of the CETA without consulting its members.

Just as it is the case for the TTIP, agriculture is considered to only serve as a bargaining chip. The CETA includes the tariff-free entry on the European market of 65,000 tons of beef and 75,000 tons of pork2. For the European professionals operating in the sector, such influx of meat from Canada could jeopardize the future of their activities. In the framework of this agreement, the European Commission only obtained the recognition of a very limited number of European geographical indications. Accordingly, Karine Jacquemart, Executive Director of Foodwatch France, regrets that “only about 30 protected names––cheeses and wines among others––are defended in the CETA”3, while there are over 1,000 of them in Europe4.

On the Canadian side, the CETA should permit the entry of some 17,700 additional tons of cheese from Europe. The Quebec milk and cheese producers reacted strongly to the news. For them, this additional market access would account for about two percent of the quota and a current combined revenue loss of $150 million, or the output of 365 farms, and will directly affect cheese makers in Quebec, home to 60 percent of Canada’s fine cheese production5. In early May, the government announced it will offset the country’s dairy farmers against increased imports of milk and dairy products in the framework of the CETA6. The previous conservative government had promised to offset the dairy, poultry and egg producers in the amount of US$3.4 billion over the next five years for their losses in the framework of the CETA and the TTIP7. However, the increase in diafiltered milk imports from the US has led Canadian milk farmers to fear the implosion of the regulatory regime of the dairy sector8.

“Any battle has a beginning” recently stated Paul Magnette, Minister-President of Wallonia. Will the opposition by Walloon and Dutch parliaments set off a domino effect elsewhere in Europe? For the time being, some governments, especially the French Government, are expressing some puzzlement, which appears to be doublespeak: Welcoming the CETA while lambasting the TTIP agreement. Matthias Fekl, the French Minister of State for Foreign Trade, even recently said that this agreement is “a good agreement” that is needed by our agricultural sector9. Yet, for both the TTIP and the CETA, we are talking about the unification of standards and rules, far beyond the elimination of customs duties. Consequently, international trade becomes nothing but a zero sum game, where exchanging market access creates more problems than it resolves, especially by scuttling the latest tools to manage agricultural crises. Would it not be more constructive to first encourage the convergence of our agricultural policies in an upward direction to ensure a sustainable and profitable agricultural development on both sides of the Atlantic before considering new trade agreements?

1 http://www.marianne.net/L-accord-UE-Canada-est-un-brouillon-du-traite-transatlantique_a241600.html
2 http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ceta-canada-eu-trade-deal-by-the-numbers-1.2125473
3 http://www.foodwatch.org/fr/presse/(...)ceta-et-tafta-un-accord-anti-democratique-peut-en-cacher-un-autre/
4 List of the Geographical indications in the EU

5 http://lait.org/les-enjeux/libre-echange-canadaue/
6 http://www.reuters.com/article/canada-dairy-idUSL2N17Z18Z
7 http://ipolitics.ca/2016/03/18/dairy-farmers-hopeful-for-ceta-compensation-in-tuesdays-budget/
8 http://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelles/economie/2016/04/12/003-lait-diafiltre-importations-reglementation-(...)
9 http://www.lafranceagricole.fr/actualites/gestion-et-droit/libre-echange-laccord-avec-le-canada-(...)

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