spiritsNEWS December 2022

CETA: Joint progress report sets path ahead for removal of wine & spirits market access issues

On 2 December 2022, the EU & Canada issued a joint progress report to take stock of the evolution of bilateral trade in wine & spirits and of progress with implementation of commitments made by both sides since CETA provisionally entered into force in September 2017.

There is no doubt that political cooperation and past agreements between the EU & Canada – including CETA - have translated into tangible growth for EU wine & spirits exports. Following implementation of the 2003 agreement on trade in wine & spirit drinks, Canadian imports of EU spirits increased by 89% between 2004 & 2016. When looking at CETA & EU spirits exports specifically, our exports have grown by 20% since CETA’s provisional entry into force in 2017. This is the reason why our sector has been a constant and vocal supporter of CETA, which should be ratified without delay by all remaining EU member states.

However, the report presents largely mixed results when looking at concrete progress on removing barriers & sources of discrimination faced by EU spirits exporters – suggesting that the growth we have seen might stall in the future if more progress is not made. Aside from discriminatory mark-ups and taxes, the report touches upon other areas of cooperation and echoes some of the difficulties faced by spirits producers in securing tangible protection for their GIs in Canada.

On the positive side, the report provides more details on the types of discriminatory practices faced by EU spirits exporters in Canada and contains a renewed commitment to discuss and address ongoing concerns and find solutions “as a matter of priority” – not least with regard to the differential taxes and mark ups giving preference to local producers. The report acknowledges that the EU too needs to do its homework when it comes to differing and sometimes conflicting requirements in the EU, for instance on labelling or packaging – something EU spirits producers too would welcome, as divergent requirements between member states put the unity of the EU Single Market at risk. Most importantly, both sides agreed to review progress five years from now – thus keeping the momentum high & the pressure up to see concrete improvements and ensure that the report does not end up in a drawer.   

We can only support these renewed joint commitments but will need a clear roadmap to ensure that tangible progress can be reported 5 years from now. This is essential to secure future sustainable growth in EU-Canada trade in spirits, which will continue to support jobs & growth in both regions – sometimes taken for granted, but more necessary than ever given the looming economic crisis in front of us. 

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