Canada-EU Trade Deal Under Threat From Italy’s New Populist Government

MILAN (Reuters) — Italy will not ratify the European Union’s free trade agreement with Canada, its new agriculture minister said on Thursday, ratcheting up an international trade spat and potentially scuppering the EU’s biggest accord in years.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is the first major trade deal the European Union has signed since it began implementing its South Korea agreement in 2011.

All 28 EU member states must approve the agreement for it to take full effect. The treaty did enter in force on a provisional basis in September 2017, sweeping away tariffs on a large number of goods and widening access to Canadian beef in Europe and EU cheese and wine in Canada.

Watch: Italy’s president swears in new populist coalition government (story continues below)

In an interview with daily La Stampa, Minister Gian Marco Centinaio said the Italian government would ask the parliament not to ratify the treaty since it does not ensure sufficient protection for the country’s speciality foods.

“We will not ratify the free-trade treaty with Canada because it protects only a small part of our PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) products,” Centinaio told the newspaper.

“Doubts over this agreement are shared by many of my European colleagues.”

In the 28-member European Union, Italy has the most food products with PDO and PGI labels, including Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma ham.

Under CETA, Canada has recognized more than 40 Italian PDO and PGI labels out of a total of 292 for the food-obsessed country.

Earlier on HuffPost Canada:
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Coldiretti, the influential association of Italian agricultural companies, backed Centinaio’s intention, saying in a statement CETA was “wrong and risky” for Italy.

It said Italian food exports, equal to 41 billion euros last year, could triple with a serious fight against international food counterfeiting.

The deal’s supporters say it would increase trade between the partners by 20 percent and boost the EU economy by 12 billion euros (C$18 billion) a year and Canada’s by C$12 billion.

Some farm associations and critics in European states have expressed concerns about the threat of rapidly rising pork and beef imports from Canada. Coldiretti also mentioned risks posed by the annulment of duties on Canadian wheat, a country where the herbicide glyphosate can be used.

Doubts over this agreement are shared by many of my European colleagues.Gian

Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel

      

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