“Today, three years ago, the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into force – an inclusive free trade agreement that provides high standards for consumers, workers and the environment. At the beginning of the meeting, Ambassador Chambovey asked Mr. Mamdouh whether multilateral cooperation had reached its limits, knowing that it was already facing challenges before COVID-19. Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh replied that “members have not spoken to each other to the extent necessary, while at the same time the reality of world trade has shifted towards a greater complexity of relations and production structures.” “To address WTO reform, we need to look at it holistically. It would not be possible to solve one problem when the others are not addressed. There is a need to find interdependence between the three pillars,” he added, citing dispute resolution, bargaining functions and advisory functions. The seven founding members of EFTA – Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom – began exploring the idea of a free trade association as an alternative to the newly created European economic community in the late 1950s. The aim of the seven founding Member States was to create a free trade area between them, to contribute to wider economic development and integration of Europe, and to liberalise world trade. The fundamental economic objective of the EFTA agreement was the same as that of the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) of the time (formerly known as the European Union) in order to create a market without unnecessary trade. But it was based on the traditional principles of intergovernmental cooperation and was therefore different from the Treaties of Rome. The 1960 agreement set out a number of general principles and procedures for EFTA and set out detailed provisions for tariff reductions, the elimination of quantitative restrictions and rules of origin. To learn more about the EFTA convention, click here.

“Since CETA came into force, merchandise trade between Canada and the European Union (EU) has increased by more than 21% per year. Today, the EU is Canada`s second largest trading partner; Last year, we received close to $165 billion in goods and services. Media Relations Office Global Affairs Canada 343-203-7700 media@international.gc.ca Follow us on Twitter: @CanadaTrade How We Did It on Facebook: Canada`s International Trade – Global Affairs Canada 1999, EFTA ministers decided to update the Stockholm Agreement to reflect the growing importance of trade in services, foreign direct investment and intellectual property rights in the global economy.

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