CETA – Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement: What does it mean for the food industry?

| Food Safety | Canada | CETA
Posted By: Aleksa Soldatic


On September 21, 2017, CETA, a new trade agreement between the EU and Canada, entered into force provisionally. As such, most of the agreement now applies. The part that still doesn’t apply is the investment protection and the Investor Court System (ICS). National parliaments in EU countries – and in some cases regional ones too (Wallonia for example) – will then need to approve CETA before it can take full effect.

What does CETA represent?

With CETA it is easier to export goods and services, benefiting people and businesses in both the EU and Canada. According to the European Commission, CETA will create new opportunities for European farmers and food producers, while fully protecting the EU's sensitive sectors. The EU has further opened its market for certain competing Canadian products in a limited and calibrated way, while securing improved access to the Canadian market for important European export products. Those include cheese, wine and spirits, fruit and vegetables, and processed products.

Dozens of European cheeses, particularly in France and Italy, have been granted a protected geographical status under EU law, and many cheese producers in the EU are keen to get a foothold in the Canadian market. CETA will provide high-quality regional food and drink products in 143 EU “geographical regions” with a similar level of protection they receive from imitation under EU laws.

CETA removes Canadian customs duties and opens up the Canadian market to European food and drink products.


Tariff, quota or other barrier
Before CETA

Tariff, quota or other barrier
Now with CETA


Duty free quota of 8000 tons

Duty free quota doubled to 18500 tons over time

Wine, spirits

Barriers to exporting EU products to Canada

Major barriers removed and clear framework to ease others

Chocolate, confectionary

Up to 10%


Bread, pastries, biscuits

Up to 15%



Prior to CETA adoption, concerns over food safety standards were raised since Canada has less strict regulations. Areas where the Canadian regulation differs from the EU are: genetically modified foods, pesticides, food dyes, chlorinated chicken and hormones. Campaigners against the deal feared it would lower the EU’s food safety standards, but European Commission assured them that free trade does not mean lowering or changing EU standards that protect people's health and safety, social rights, their rights as consumers or the environment.

Imports from Canada will still have to satisfy all EU product rules and regulations – without exception. As such, CETA will not change how the EU regulates food safety, including GMO products or the ban on hormone-treated beef.

Food sector reaction

Food industry associations from the EU as well as Canada welcome the agreement.

According to FoodDrinkEurope, CETA will create important opportunities for European and Canadian food and drink businesses. In a combined market of 550 million, people on both sides will benefit from the elimination of customs duties on agri-food and processed agricultural products, and from the removal of non-tariff trade barriers.

Food & Consumer Products of Canada states that CETA provides secure and meaningful access to the largest economy in the world, and opens door to companies looking to grow beyond Canada’s borders.

Another example where the number of countries is different

If you need direct access to EU food legislation, all in one place, Selerant’s Food Law Library might be a right solution for you. At Selerant, we have a legislation database of over 140 countries (and growing)! Contact us for more information.