Thanks to the support of the Embassy of Canada in Belgium and Luxembourg, the Representation of the European Commission in Luxembourg and the European Chamber of Commerce in Canada, the conference “EU-CANADA Trade Agreement: CETA, what’s in it for me?” was held on 23 November. It was the first event of a cycle dedicated to Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), aimed at informing Luxembourg companies in a pragmatic way what the advantages of FTAs are, what benefits they can get from such agreements, and how to use them to make the most of their internationalization.
Setting the context of FTAs and their importance for companies’ internationalization
Director International Affairs Ms. Cindy Tereba, kickstarted the event by greeting the audience and the speakers before giving the floor to Ms. Anne Calteux, Head of Representation of the European Commission in Luxembourg. Ms. Calteux paved the way for the conference by emphasizing on the importance of FTAs for European businesses of all sizes, and that said agreements are an absolute priority of the EU Commission, especially in the period of perma-crisis the European economy is currently going through. To complete the picture from an EU institutional point of view, Luxembourg’s MEP Mr. Christophe Hansen gave the European Parliament’s perspective on the topic, underlining that EU FTAs are crucial to protect Europe’s important position in an ever-globalized world marked by multilateralism, and that CETA is a best practice that should inspire many more FTAs to come.
5 years of CETA: Where are Luxembourg companies standing now?
H.E. Mr. Alain Gendron, Ambassador of Canada to Luxembourg focused the larger discussion on FTAs onto Canada specifically during his opening speech to the interactive panel discussion on CETA, with institutional high-level experts of DG Trade at the European Commission, the European Chamber of Commerce in Canada, as well as experienced professionals with two Luxembourg companies active in Canada.
CETA is one of the best integrated FTAs, with innovative regulationssitions in terms of sustainable development as well as labor, including dispositions on services and public procurement. This is also possible thanks to the similarities in terms of economy and the shared common values between the EU and Canada, as highlighted by the experts of the round table.
A useful digital platform that was mentioned many times was the Access2Markets portal developed by DG Trade of the European Commission, with its My Trade Assistant tool. The aim of this portal is to help companies gather relevant information for their international trade operations. Some new features of the tool include also information about exporting services to Canada, as well as on public procurement.
Luxembourg has success stories to be proud of, for example but not limited to Genaveh’s export of chocolates or Husky’s exported Injection Molding machines, both represented at the round table. The latter historically Canadian company present in Luxembourg has really benefited from the reduction of costs and ease of formalities during customs procedure, and the difference between pre-CETA to post-CETA is striking.
In conclusion, CETA offers the following advantages: savings of costs, easier customs formalities and simpler access to government procurement. It is of great value that the EU and Canada have economic similarities, even if there is a need to think of the business culture there.
Two thematic workshops: Concretely, what does CETA mean for the trade of goods and services and access to public procurement?
CETA makes custom formalities easier. However, it is primordial to prove the origin of the goods, which is the pillar of import/export in all FTAs. ROSA, the Rules of Origin Self-Assessment tool included in My Trade Assistant, can be used for this. An important partner for Luxembourg companies in this aspect is of course the Luxembourg Customs and Excise Agency.
Services are often overlooked when talking about FTAs, but providing them to Canada is easier since CETA. Chapters 9-16 explain principles and rules for each type of services, including financial services or e-commerce. This also implies movement of workers, hence dispositions smoothing entry and stay into Canada for business purposes, as well as a principle of mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
Access to government procurement is also an interesting point in CETA (Chapter 19) as public procurement is a particularly important way for companies to access a market. Different sources to find interesting opportunities exist in Canada, and companies can also look out for a tender alert service like the Enterprise Europe Network – Luxembourg’s one.
What about my individual project?
For Luxembourg companies to present their projects regarding entering the Canada market, and to get individual advice, they were offered meeting sessions with the speakers and CETA experts. Participating companies could benefit from three afternoons of personalized coaching, to keep the momentum and discussions going.
Do you have a project in Canada and are interested in knowing how CETA can be beneficial to your company? Do you have questions about your internationalization in general? Please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com