Significant Benefits to Irish Companies from EU – Canada Free Trade Agreement – Mary Mitchell O’Connor

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D., has warmly welcomed the positive vote of the European Parliament today to approve the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiated with Canada.  CETA will boost goods and services trade and investment flows between the EU and Canada, as it removes almost all tariffs on trade between the two parties, delivering jobs and growth for Ireland and Canada.  

CETA is a comprehensive and wide ranging free trade agreement and covers virtually every aspect of economic activity.  It will create sizeable new market access opportunities in services and investment for Irish firms.  It will also allow Irish companies access to Canadian public contracts.  Irish firms will also benefit from the recognition of product standards and certification, thus saving on ‘double testing’ on both sides of the Atlantic.  These are some of the benefits of the trade deal with Canada as well as providing new market opportunities in many sectors for Irish firms.  The issue of growing market share in other markets is made even more important by the UK referendum on its membership of the EU.

The core elements of the agreement will take effect on a provisional basis early this year, meaning Irish companies can immediately take advantage of the all-important reductions in tariffs on our exports, and greater access to the public procurement market in Canada.  

Minster Mitchell O’Connor stated:
Amid rising sentiment towards closing down trade opportunities it is important that trading blocks such as the EU and Canada can show the way forward lies in partnership and not protectionism’.  

I will be leading a trade mission to Canada in late May to promote the advantages of the agreement and to assist Irish firms in building and expanding their footprint in the Canadian market’.  



The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, also known as CETA, is a progressive and comprehensive agreement between the EU and Canada.

CETA will save on duty costs.  
Overall, over 98% of tariffs will be fully eliminated under CETA.  This will happen at entry into force of the agreement for the vast majority of products with those remaining products identified for liberalisation having their tariffs brought to zero within 3, 5 or 7 years.  

CETA will provide new freedoms to trade in goods and services.  
The agreement provides a framework to facilitate the mutual recognition of qualifications in regulated professions such as architects, accountants and engineers.  

CETA will make transfers of company staff and other professionals between the EU and Canada easier.  It will improve the ability of European companies to provide after sales services by making it easier for EU firms to export equipment, machinery and software by allowing firms to send maintenance engineers and other specialists to provide after-sales and related services.  

CETA will allow Irish companies to compete for Canadian public tenders.  EU firms will be able to bid to provide goods and services not only at federal level but also to Canadian provinces and municipalities, the first non-Canadian firms to be able to do so.  

The EU and Canada have agreed to accept each other’s conformity assessment certificates in areas such as electrical goods, electronic and radio equipment, toys, machinery or measuring equipment to avoid costs related to double testing.  This is of particular benefit to smaller companies for whom paying twice for the same test can be prohibitive.

Commitment to Sustainable Development

In CETA, the EU and Canada affirm their commitment to sustainable development. Both agree that more trade and investment should further environmental protection and labour rights.  The EU and Canada are committed to CETA helping to ensure that economic growth, social development, and environmental protection are mutually supportive. CETA integrates the EU’s and Canada’s obligations to international rules on workers’ rights and environmental protection, and gives a strong role to EU and Canadian civil society in participating in the implementation of the commitments in these areas in CETA.

Following the decision today by the European Parliament to give its consent, the agreement will be provisionally applied.  Provisional application is a standard part of trade agreements and allows those parts of the agreement for which the EU has competence for to come into force including the all-important reductions in tariffs on our exports.  The provisions in CETA relating to investment protection will be excluded from provisional application.

The process of ratification can then commence in Member States according to their constitutional requirements.  In the case of Ireland the Dáil will be part of the final decision to ratify the Agreement.  

The text of the agreement and further information is available on the European Commission’s website at