I have been in touch with one of my colleagues Emma McClarkin MEP, who serves as the Conservative Joint Spokesman and ECR Coordinator for the International Trade Committee. As this is such an important and controversial issue. She gave me the following answer:
“Canada is one of the closest counties to EU Member States in terms of shared values outside Europe. Canada is a democratic country with extremely high standards concerning things such as public health, food safety and consumer protection. Canada is also a member of the Commonwealth and therefore a crucial friend and ally to the UK, and the Conservatives have been, and continue to be, very supportive of strengthening these ties.
This is indeed an ambitious, modern and, as the name indicates, comprehensive agreement, which holds the potential to expand trade and investment between EU Member States and Canada, creating good paying high quality jobs and economic growth.
By eliminating almost all customs duties (99% of non-agricultural tariffs) the moment the Agreement enters into force, trade in goods and services will be made much easier, which offers consumers more choice and better prices across a whole range of things traded every day. In addition, by cutting border taxes, this will make new and exciting opportunities for the UK’s small and medium sized enterprises, who previously could not afford to enter the Canadian market. These businesses make up the vast majority of the UK economy, so if we can help them get into new markets this will be of great benefit.
Underscoring this point, in an analysis of the deal, the long run benefits are estimated to be around £1.3bn a year for the UK, while once it is fully implemented the Agreement is expected to increase two-way bilateral trade in goods and services between the EU and Canada by 23% or £19bn, with total EU exports expected to rise by 24% or £1.5bn. These amounts are significant and cannot be overlooked when it comes to making a decision on the final vote on CETA.
CETA is, however, not merely a trade agreement, in also covers investment and as a result contains investment protection provisions. These are necessary to protect UK investors in Canada, and to increase investment rates from Canada into the UK. We need investment agreements to continue to update our infrastructure and public services and to provide employment.
On this line and based on public discussions and consultations with various stakeholders the Commission has included a proposal that contains investment protection clauses. By replacing the old Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS) with the Investment Court System (ICS), CETA will make dispute resolution fairer and more transparent without affecting in any way the right of national governments to regulate in the interest of their citizens. Reports that the investment protection provisions in CETA can overturn UK law or that they will lead to privatisation of public services are untrue. The UK has already over 70 investment treaties and they have never stopped the UK legislating in the interest of its citizens. Furthermore, this system has helped protect UK investors abroad, ensuring that governments uphold the rule of law and treat UK citizens and companies fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner, treatment they have agreed in an international investment treaty.
By touching on issues that remain managed at the level of the Member State, rather than the EU, CETA will be treated as what is known as a “mixed” agreement rather than an EU only matter, meaning that it will require EU and national parliament ratification in the Member States of the EU. The vote at EU level is expected to take place in December and, after this and on the assumption that it will be endorsed, member states can start applying CETA’s provisions while the national ratification process is taking place. Nonetheless, the full entry into force of the agreement will only happen once all member states have ratified it through their national ratification procedures.
Regardless of Brexit, I, as a UK Conservative, will continue to champion and support CETA. CETA will benefit the UK immensely and therefore I see no reason to oppose a deal that could benefit the UK even if it is only for a short period. Equally, CETA represents a new model of trade deals that I hope the UK can replicate or even better in future trading relations, perhaps even as the basis for a future UK-EU trade deal.
In summary, I welcome this trade deal, which represents a fantastic opportunity to increase the value of bilateral trade in goods between the EU and Canada. As Canada is one of the world’s most developed economies, it creates major opportunities across all areas of the UK economy. We must now work to get the deal over the line, as each week the agreement is not signed costs UK business £19 million in lost opportunities. I will continue to support CETA in the European Parliament and defend the interests of UK businesses and consumers.”