The pact, which still needs ratification by both sides, could
increase bilateral trade by about 23 percent, or EUR 25.7 billion,
by lifting quotas and fine-tuning regulations.
Canada and the European Union tentatively agreed to a sweeping
trade agreement on Friday. But while billed as a "free trade" pact,
the limited information released about its terms suggest that the
terms of any final deal may involve adjusting import-export quotas
and fine-tuning regulations as much as the easing of tariffs.
Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, has repeatedly
emphasized the importance of a trade pact with Europe. Despite
that, the negotiations, which began in 2009 and largely took place
out of public view, provoked relatively little notice in Canada.
Dairy farmers, who enjoy tight controls on imports, have been
critical, as have some groups who fear it may increase the cost of
Most of the political controversy in Canada focused on Mr.
Harper's presenting a legislative agenda for a new session of
Parliament on Wednesday and then leaving for Brussels the next day
before he could be questioned. An agreement on the trade deal had
not been expected this week and opposition politicians charged that
Mr. Harper had announced the pact on Friday to deflect attention
from an expenses scandal in the Canadian Senate involving some of
his Conservative appointees.
"This is the biggest deal our country has ever made," Mr. Harper
said in Brussels on Friday, adding that it is "an historic win for
Once a final text of the agreement is completed and signed, it
would require ratification by the European Parliament, all of the
European Union's 28 member states and every Canadian province and
Mr. Harper's "biggest deal" assertion aside, any pact with Europe
will pale in economic terms with the 1988 trade deal between Canada
and the United States, which was subsequently folded into the North
American Free Trade Agreement. According to the Canadian government,
the United States accounted for 69.5 percent of its international
trade in 2011, when Canada had exports of $532.4 billion, while
Europe accounted for only 10.4 percent. The European Commission
estimates that Canada accounts for about 1.8 percent of its external
Once implemented, the agreement is expected to increase trade
between Canada and the European Union by nearly 23 percent, or EUR
"Businesses in both Europe and Canada will be delighted to see
new market opportunities open up at a time when global economic
performance remains sluggish," said Markus J. …