September 21st, 2017

By Didier Culat, Legal Counsel

On October 30, 2016, Canada and the European Union signed a Free-Trade Agreement to promote and facilitate commercial trade between Canada and the European Union. Known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA ) and the subject of negotiations since May 2009, this agreement follows the agreement in principle reached on October 18, 2013.

The Agreement is provisionally in force since September 21, 2017 whereby almost all the provisions are immediately applicable.

CETA represents a prime opportunity for Canadian businesses wishing to enter the European market since 98% of existing custom tariffs between Canada and the European Union are now abolished. The immediate reduction of custom tariffs represents a significant advantage that other international competitors will not have. By contrast, under the North American Free Trade Agreement, custom tariffs were progressively reduced over a 7-year period.

It is important to note that CETA covers not only trade in goods, but also trade in services and public procurement. It also provides for conflict resolution, the reduction of both tariff and non-tariff barriers, new measures to protect intellectual property and coordination between Canada and the European Union on sustainable development issues.

This is also the first time the European Union has signed a free trade agreement with a G7 country.

CETA will be different from those agreements in place within the European Union since tax measures and structures will have to be planned, immigration issues addressed so Canadian citizens will be allowed extended stays in Europe and intellectual property rights protected.


Our specialists at BCF will be pleased to advise you concerning the opportunities offered by the new markets made available with the implementation of CETA. Notably at BCF we can assist you as your business prepares its entry in the European market with your:

  • intellectual property plan be it:

  • patents;

  • trademarks;

  • copyright; or

  • industrial designs;

  • tax plan;

  • rules of origin plan;

  • labour mobility plan; or

  • commercial business implementation plan, be it:

  • simply hiring an employee;

  • establishing a distribution network;

  • acquiring an established business in Europe;

  • establishing a new business in Europe; or

  • transacting with Europeans by e-commerce.