The deal has been four years in the making

The deal has been four years in the making

The EU has signed a free-trade agreement with Canada that will eliminate all import tariffs on European wines and spirits arriving in the North American country.

The agreement, signed today (18 October), will also abolish a requirement to blend bulk spirits imports with Canadian product from the same category. This will allow European makers of geographically indexed (GI) spirits such as whisky, grappa and Cognac to use their GI trademarks in Canada for the first time. 

Europe's trade organisation for the spirits industry, SpiritsEurope, praised the new trade deal, calling it “great news” for EU spirits makers.

“At a time when domestic markets are extremely difficult, export markets are providing the only opportunities for growth,” said Paul Skehan, director general of SpiritsEurope.

“Canada is already the fifth-largest market for European spirit drinks, generating EUR288m (US$394m) for the European economy each year, and a deal now would open the opportunity for increasing our sales there.”

Also included in the free-trade agreement:

  • Better enforcement of previous agreements with the trade agreements dispute settlement mechanism
  • More transparency in the way Liquor Boards operate in Canada and abroad

The deal, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, has taken four years of negotiations. It was signed this morning by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.

A spokesperson for SpiritsEurope told just-drinks today that the agreement may not come into effect for another year as it must be ratified by the Canadian and EU parliaments.