Reflecting on CETA and Ireland-Canada Trade at the ICBA Briefing

Oct 2, 2018

One year on from the provisional application of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, Gabriel Doran attended a briefing on Ireland-Canada trade relations organized by the Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA) and held at the office of law firm William Fry in Dublin on Friday 28 September

The Ireland Canada Business Association’s Business Briefing held at William Fry’s offices in Dublin last Friday was an opportunity to reflect on the current trading relationship that Ireland and Canada enjoy within the context of the one year anniversary of the provisional application of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, or ‘CETA’ between the EU and Canada, which Irish businesses stand to benefit from.

The provisional application of CETA taking effect one year ago has allowed duties to be slashed on over 98% of tariffs on the trade of goods and services between Canada and EU member countries, including Ireland.

However, while most of the CETA’s provisions have taken affect, some areas are still pending ratification from the national parliaments of EU countries, including Ireland’s. This is the final stage before CETA can be completely concluded, whereby every EU country must each give complete ratification from their national parliaments.

Despite this final milestone yet to be completed, the provisional application of CETA for the last year has been significant for Ireland-Canada trade and Irish businesses, with key details highlighted by Minister for Business Heather Humphreys TD at the briefing.

The headline statistics detailed by the Minister include the €3 billion of total annual trade between the two countries and how the value of goods exports from Ireland to Canada has grown by 40% to reach over €1bn in 2017, and the value of services exports rose by 38% to reach €1.4bn in 2016.

There are strong-levels of mutual investment also, with Ireland’s Foreign Direct investment stocks in Canada amounting to over an estimated €5 billion, making Ireland the thirteenth largest source of FDI into Canada and Canadian FDI into Ireland marked at approximately €12 billion, ranking Ireland as Canada’s 10th biggest destination source according to Canadian Direct Investment Abroad.

The Minister also detailed some of the further benefits of CETA for Irish business beyond tariff elimination, such as access to the Canadian procurement market for Irish businesses, the easing of regulatory barriers, and more transparent rules for market access.

Minister Humphreys also pointed to her department, the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, as well as Enterprise Ireland, together having received clear feedback that the tariff elimination has prompted new and larger orders from Irish suppliers to Canadian firms.

Furthermore, CETA’s provisional application and anticipated complete ratification was hailed by the Minister as a clear sign of Ireland and Canada maintaining a commitment to “openness, rules-based multilateralism and free trade” against global uncertainties.

Following the Minister’s speech, a panel discussion opened, which featured the following panellists –

  • Allan Fullerton, CEO of Canadian company Teknicor which opened offices in Sandyford, Dublin in 2018
  • Kevin Glass, General Counsel of the EMEA office of IMAX Theatres, situated in Dublin
  • And John Magee, partner at William Fry law firm

Both of the Canadian business representatives discussed their experiences working and living in Ireland.

Brexit was an overarching theme within this discussion, with Kevin Glass stating that operating in a country outside of the EU without the CETA treaty in place would be a definite negative for their business. It was decided to open the EMEA office of IMAX in Dublin in the aftermath of Brexit, however Kevin did note that even before Brexit, Ireland was being strongly considered as the office’s location.

Allan Fullerton stated how there was still a substantial amount of his business which operated within the UK market, with London being a fantastic city for business within the technology sector and a hot bed of talent.

He did note however, that the share between Ireland and the UK of Teknicor as a company, 75% of Teknicor was situated in Ireland while 25% of the business was based in the UK.

Both business representatives agreed in unison that the cultural factors, such as the ease of which Canadians and Irish people can develop successful personal relationships in a professional context and the cultural similarities and shared history between the two countries, had a big impact in deciding to establish their businesses within Ireland.

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